Toughie 2811 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2811

Toughie No 2811 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

proXimal is one of my favourite setters. Thanks to him for an enjoyable and X-less puzzle.

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

Across Clues

1a Swimmer hit, intercepted by men on board boat (7,5)
BASKING SHARK: a verb to hit hard contains men on a board. Finish with a rescue boat.

9a Church claim to collect new tax (9)
CHALLENGE: stick together an abbreviation for church and a verb to claim or insinuate containing N(ew).

10a Home in France destructive creature stripped (5)
FOCUS: the IVR code for France precedes a destructive winged creature without its outer letters.

11a Reportedly pick up purchase with this (6)
HEREBY: this sounds like verbs to pick up or ‘get wind of’ and to purchase.

12a Part of organ having infection, spot in peer’s heart (4,4)
FLUE PIPE: assemble an abbreviated winter infection and the central letters of ‘peer’ containing a spot or star-like insignia.

13a Scullery-maid casually cutting last bit of lemon for drinks (6)
CIDERS: the informal name of a pantomime scullery-maid loses the last letter of lemon.

15a Dreamer ordered spacesuit, ditching uniform (8)
ESCAPIST: an anagram (ordered) of SPACES[u]IT without the letter that uniform represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

18a Play that’s funny by epic writer (8)
HAMILTON: an exclamation expressing amusement and a 17th century English poet. This quotation from the poet may hold a lesson for Mr Putin:

Who overcomes
By force, hath overcome but half his foe.

19a Ingratiate oneself backing society with informal agreement (4,2)
COSY UP: reverse an abbreviation for society and add an informal way of saying ‘yes’.

21a Batter around second-rate fish showing veiny appearance (8)
MARBLING: reverse a verb to batter or crash into and add the letter used to mean second-rate and a favourite Crosswordland fish.

23a Stray is pale with colour coming back (6)
WANDER: rivet together an adjective meaning pale and the reversal of a primary colour.

26a On which people are putting young (5)
GREEN: double definition, the second could refer to young fruit or it could mean inexperienced.

27a English player Paul regularly coached about budget (9)
ECONOMISE: string together an abbreviation for English, the surname of Paul the American musician and songwriter and regular letters from ‘coached’. Now reverse it all.

28a Likely culprit with pies and crumpets going walkabout (5,7)
PRIME SUSPECT: an anagram (going walkabout) of PIES CRUMPETS. Lovely anagram indicator!

Down Clues

1d Drunk smart to follow after vehicle turned up (7)
BACCHIC: an adjective meaning smart or stylish follows the reversal of a road vehicle.

2d Good person on carriage is one in flight (5)
STAIR: our usual abbreviated good person and a synonym of carriage or demeanour.

3d Being overturned, declare bill is partly prejudiced (9)
ILLIBERAL: hidden in reverse.

4d Become pregnant (4)
GONE: double definition. The word for pregnant appeared very recently and led to what the late Mrs Merton used to call a mass debate so I’m anticipating a few comments on this one.

5d Uncaring ambassador put on eastern robe after changing sides (8)
HEEDLESS: knit together the abbreviated title of an ambassador, the abbreviation for eastern and a synonym of gown with one of the letters therein changed to the opposite side.

6d Not opening, toy gun (5)
RIFLE: a verb to toy without its opening letter.

7d Unusually, Vatican City needing no prison industry (8)
ACTIVITY: remove the slang word for prison from Vatican City and make an anagram (unusually) of what’s left over.

8d Definitely tell when Frenchman’s very upset (6)
ASSERT: a synonym for when and the reversal of the French word for ‘very’.

14d Did adopting the Euro make Germans so limited? (8)
DEMARKED: cryptically how the introduction of the Euro took away Germany’s old currency.

16d Hand woman blouse — being totally uncovered is irregular (9)
ANOMALOUS: remove the outer letters from the first three words.

17d Model makers cut each minute tree (8)
HORNBEAM: a British company most famous for its model trains loses its last letter and is followed by abbreviations for each and minute.

18d Respect journal article for gardening circles (6)
HOMAGE: the abbreviation for a journal or glossy is contained in something used by gardeners.

20d Warning after blending Iberian wines (7)
PORTENT: join together a wine from Portugal and one from Spain then remove one instance of the double letter at the centre.

22d Vessel capsized on duck (5)
LINER: paste together a preposition meaning on or about and what a crickety duck means and reverse it all.

24d Thrust plunger with water ultimately rising (5)
DRIVE: start with someone or something that plunges and move the ultimate letter of water up a few places.

25d Bad reaction from alcohol, reportedly (4)
BOOS: a sound-alike clue.

The clues I liked best were 13a, 8d, 16d and 20d. Which one(s) met with your approval?

26 comments on “Toughie 2811

  1. Just excellent throughout. Perfect level for a Thursday Toughie. Thanks to ProXimal and to Gazza to whom I will be grateful for a couple of parsings

  2. Really enjoyed this. I find it on the edge of my difficulty ability but I finish it. Not like tomorrow if Elgar is involved. Many smiles moments. Couldn’t parse 18a without Gazza’s help. Thanks to proximal and Gazza

    1. It’s Osmosis tomorrow. You can see the week’s Toughie setters at the right-hand side of the blog’s home page.

  3. A favourite setter of mine also
    Excellent puzzle which I thoroughly enjoyed working through
    Thanks proXimal and Gazza

  4. What a superb Toughie to complement the back-pager providing crossword heaven today. This was certainly tough but persistence paid off and it all came together nicely with, perhaps surprisingly with hindsight, 25d being my last one in.

    Once again spoilt for choice when trying to select a favourite, but I think 16d just shades it.

    Many thanks to proXImal and to Gazza.

  5. What good stuff! Thank you ProXimal.
    Thoroughly enjoyable with humorous undertones.
    18 ac and 27ac needed assistance, thanks Gazza.
    I think we had that Spanish wine recently, because it was new to me last time.

  6. OK – I promise not to reopen the 4d debate but can someone enlighten me when it comes to the other definition, how could I use the answer in place of ‘become’ in a sentence?
    Dithered for a while in a couple of places but very much enjoyed the challenge.
    18&21a claimed the top spots here with a smile for 1&26a.

    Thanks to proXimal and to my favourite blogger.

    1. In the sense of “to pass into a certain condition”: She’s gone all religious!

      Basically, the same as Chris M’s.

  7. Late to comment on this but I see those that have already thrown their hats in the ring came to the same conclusion as me, that this was a belter of a crossword. Very hard to pick out favourites, but 26a and 16d were clear of the field. Many thanks to both proXimal and Gazza.

  8. Failed by two. I was convinced 13a was something to do with cleaner and 14d I didn’t have a clue. I couldn’t parse 12a or 18a either. Oh well! Favourite was 17d. Thanks to ProXimal and Gazza.

  9. Glad it wasn’t just me, I concur with a real belter. Was worried it would be a dnf but dogged tenacity drove me through. Couple of bung-ins which took a lot of cell-searching to parse, but it all fell into place eventually. Many thanks to both for the workout. Frankly, I was worried (with the standard of this offering) about tomorrow’s Elgar, but I see ’tis not he…

  10. What is the Spanish wine in 20d.?cannot work out the ent of portent.I would be grateful for any help

    1. The Portuguese wine is port and the Spanish wine is tent. Blend the two words together, losing one of the two central Ts.

      1. Many thanks, I am very familiar with Spanish Tinto but hadnot heard of tentAs a wine but see it in Chambers now.

    2. The Spanish wine’s first letter is shared with the last letter of the fortified one – hence the use of ‘blending’ in the clue. Hope that helps.

      Sorry, Gazza, you got there ahead of me!

  11. I did not know the Spanish wine but bunged-in the definition correctly, and of all things, I missed the play! So obvious now that I know it. My mind just drew a complete blank. And now that I know what 18a is, it’s become my COTD. Also liked 1d and 21a–most enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to Gazza and proXimal.

  12. So pleased to have finished this puzzle in full after a rather too-long absence.

    Favourites for me were 14d (because we were living in Germany when this took place) and 17d (because I had – and still have – one of these iconic train sets!).

    Thanks to Gazza for the blog and proXimal for the excellent puzzle.

  13. Excellent puzzle which sadly I just all at sea with today. I needed 2 letter checker reveals to eventually get (after 3 stabs at it) to within 18a of a finish & then swore when gave up & read the hint. Agree with Robert that it’s COTD. Also failed to parse both 20d (despite the Spanish plonk popping up recently) & inexcusably 27a as I’m a big Paul Simon fan. I too wasn’t a fan of 4d but that’s a minor gripe with so many excellent clues.
    Thanks to proXimal & to Gazza

  14. I don’t normally tackle the Toughie, but I have caught the dreaded lurgy and have nothing else to do!
    Very enjoyable – the puzzle, that is, not Covid! 😡

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