Sunday Toughie 3 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 3

Sunday Toughie No 3 by proXimal

A full review by John Bee

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This puzzle was published on 13th Feb 2022

I found this a bit harder than #1 and #2 but still managed to get answers in the grid but a few parsings almost beat me. Thanks to Gazza, Senf and others for help.


1 Spots leaving head with second rash (8)
RECKLESS: F reckles leaves its head but adds a shortened second to give a synonym of rash.

5 Register to enter prize competition for jam (4,2)
CLOG UP: A register or LOG enters the reward for a prize competition or C(log)UP to give the sort of jam your arteries may suffer after too many of Betty’s Cream Teas.

10 Search people following one group avoiding fine security device (11,4)
COMBINATION LOCK: To search gives COMB, the people following the letter that looks like one gives
I-NATION and the group, usually of sheep, avoiding the F for fine is F LOCK. Put that lot together for a security device.

11 This foreigner messing with Kyiv could be risky with vain US (7)
RUSSIAN: I think this is a compound anagram from which you must extract something. RISKY with VAIN US – KYIV gives the letters to make up RUSSIAN. We need two anagram indicators to do this and ‘messing with’ and ‘could be’ oblige. I hope this clue is not too prescient as troops mass on the Ukraine border.

12 Savage on good terms with barbarian hugging mother (7)
INHUMAN: On good terms with produces ‘IN’ Attilla was famously one of the barbarians we are looking for ‘HUN’ and he contains (hugging) a two-letter synonym of mother – IN HU(MA)N or savage.

13 Anybody mighty stops handle turning (8)
EVERYMAN: I think we have a synonym of mighty (VERY) inside (stops) a synonym of handle (NAME) but the handle is reversed (turning) E VERY MAN it is also an alternative crossword in a rival newspaper to the Telegraph.

15 Charges having put stone foundation all around (5)
DEBTS: The abbreviation for a stone in weight and a foundation or bed are both reversed (all around) to give charges against our money.

18 We heard tree grew money (5)
EUROS: A pair of homophones here. The tree is a YEW, when it grew it ROSE. Put those together and you get the money our European cousins use.

20 One hates novelty decoration on mobile phone (8)
NEOPHOBE: The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is our decoration here and it goes after (on) an anagram (mobile) of PHONE to give someone who hates novelty.

23 Taste fifty fancy sandwiches (7)
FLAVOUR: If you fancy the girl (or boy) next door you may favour them, sandwich that around the Roman numeral for fifty, you will get a taste of what proXimal seeks here.

25 Dish of rabbit set back in aisle (7)
LASAGNE: I think rabbit for chatter or GAS is something we had quite recently, today it is reversed (set back) and inserted (in) a synonym of aisle LA-SAG-NE

26 Be in Dunstable, Derby etc and do multiple roles (4,7,4)
WEAR SEVERAL HATS: I didn’t know that Dunstable was a hat but as it is near neighbour to Luton I find out that they are well known makers of straw hats and boaters, to ‘be in’ gives us WEAR and we have two or more (etc) hats or WEAR SEVERAL HATS as Senf has done recently.

27 Clearly not on, electronic game with plug away (6)
SIMPLY: BD and I first thought of The Sims or sim city but Rabbit Dave mentioned another game SIMON an electronic version of Simon says – this is what he said “BD, I took “clearly” to be the definition for 27a with the wordplay for the first three letters of the answer being a 5-letter electronic game with the letters ON removed (“not on”)”, to plug away at or ply one’s trade for example, gives the second half.

28 Dragon badly cut bottom after retreating (8)
HARRIDAN: The bottom or lowest point is NADIR reversed (retreating) is RIDAN the first three letters are a synonym of badly without the last letter HARD Gazza explains it as e.g. The defeat hit him badly/hard

harridan noun a bad-tempered, scolding old woman; a nag. Grandma Bee was such and referred to, amongst my sister and I, as the Dragon. We then grew up and recognised her for the rather old fashioned but quite nice Granny she was.


1 Celebrate unsurpassed performance (6)
RECORD: To celebrate is to mark an occasion that is recorded, unsurpassed performances can be personal, national or world records

2 Company removes rogue and makes impression (5,4)
COMES OVER: The usual abbreviation for a CO-mpany is followed by an anagram of Removes to make an impression in a presentation for example. “That comes over rather well”

3 Comparatively loud den of beasts on island to the north (7)
LAIRIER: Comparatively may suggest an ‘ier’ ending to the den of beasts or (LAIR) but it is also achieved by taking the common crossword words for on or about (RE) and I for island and reversing them (North in a down clue)

4 Son manipulated person’s issue (5)
SPAWN: S for son plus a chess person/man/piece (PAWN) to give a formal term for issue or the offspring of someone or something

6 Had food sent out with article missing (7)
LUNCHED: A synonym of sent out (LAUNCHED) loses it’s indefinite article.

7 Despair of game, being pinned by Grand Master (5)
GLOOM: I have never heard of the game before but found this; LOO: an old card game in which the winner of each trick or a majority of tricks takes a portion of the pool while losing players are obligated to contribute to the next pool. Stick that (being pinned) into the chess abbreviation for Grand Master and you get GLOOM and a sense of despair

8 Poster oddly containing goddess mounted on Eastern dog (8)
PEKINESE: The odd letters of P-o-S-t-E-r containing a reversal (mounted in a down clue) of the Greek goddess of victory NIKE and E for east. I first thought the definition might be eastern dog, but you would be an E short for the dog.

9 Fruit mass that is fed to horse (8)
PIMIENTO: A breed of horse that has a coat colour consisting of large patches of white and any other colour – PINTO contains abbreviations for M-ass and the Latin id est. or i.e. to give us a Spanish sweet pepper often stuffed in olives.

14 Tree hit over shed in moving earth around (8)
MANGROVE: An anagram of moving earth without the hit (hit over shed) leads to, A mangrove is a shrub or tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water.

16 Group in which Gary Barlow’s first played piano (4,5)
BABY GRAND: another anagram here we need a synonym of group (BAND) (GARY) and B (Barlow’s first) lead us to a type of piano

17 Birds, loud feathered creatures below climber (8)
PEAFOWLS: We start with the musical notation for loud Fortissimo or F add some nocturnal feathered creatures OWLS these are below a climbing plant whose tendrils entwine around any suitable support. PEAFOWLS are indeed loud creatures who made a walk round York’s Museum Gardens a noisy stroll. I even saw them outside Betty’s on St Helen’s Square once begging for crumbs. Alas they are not there anymore.

19 Marital operations backfired, common to be disheartened (7)
SPOUSAL: The reversal (backfired) of OP(eration)S followed by a word meaning common (USUAL) without its middle letter (disheartened)

21 Thief from Irish province left to the south after hour (7)
HUSTLER: Start with the Irish province that includes Northern Ireland, move the L(eft) along a couple of places (left to the south in a down clue) and put the whole lot after H(our)

22 Do this where salt is found acceptable? (6)
SEASON: Salt is a crossword term that refers to sailors, where they are found are the (seven – don’t go there, there are many more than 7) seas add a synonym of acceptable ON and you get the permission to add salt or other condiments to your food. I think the question mark allows us to interpret this as an all-in-one clue.

24 State of fear concocted with soldiers (5)
ALARM: “à la”(of a dish) cooked or prepared (concocted) in a specified way. Add ALA to the Royal Marines for a state of fear.

25 One developing popular valved masks (5)
LARVA: the developing form of an insect or grub is hidden (masks) is hidden in the third and fourth words of the clue.

Ladybird Larvae are much uglier than MamaBird

5 comments on “Sunday Toughie 3

  1. Very enjoyable and a proper Toughie – thanks to proXimal and to John Bee for the write-up.
    I thought that 1d was possibly a triple definition.

  2. Thanks for the full review John. Like Stephen you’ve taken to this reviewing malarkey like a duck to water. I’d love to do it but have neither the technical skills nor the crossword solving ability.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. You should have seen me at about 1 am Sunday scrabbling for answers for #4 but I got there eventually, slept on it and put the hints up Sunday afternoon. A bit of help from the blog to parse the ones I chose (read had no option but) to leave unhinted, and I have a review ready for next Weds.
      I hope the hints and review appear smooth and effortless but like the swan sailing serenely across the pond, furious paddling is going on below. I am sure I will get better as time progresses.

  3. Congratulations, John, for such an informative and well-phrased review. It’s amazing how quickly you’ve started sporting another hat, so stylishly at that. I remember enjoying this Toughie a great deal though at my age the retention of detail a week old is a burlesque of my once most estimable memory (so my students used to say). So keep up the furious paddling, old cob.

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