Toughie 2820 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2820

Toughie No 2820 by Artix

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I got 1a then stared for a while. A slightly frustrating solve that involved (for me, anyway) a generous amount of research. However, on writing up the blog, I was able to savour the clues again and there are some very fine ones.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Beefy‘s coarse nature initially seen in Times (6)
BRAWNY: A 3-letter word for coarse plus the 1st letter (initially) of nature are inserted into (seen in) a short word meaning times (as in multiplication)

4a    Learned to put old currency in “d” after its withdrawal (8)
EDUCATED: An old coin is inserted (to put … in) into a reversal (after its withdrawal) of a spelled-out version of “d”

9a    Get ready to start again after Trump’s break? (6)
RERACK: A cryptic definition, think snooker or pool, I’m guessing Trump indicates an Americanism (Ah, Judd Trump, a snooker player – thanks Gazza)

10a    One Shade of Grey not achieved in clutches of local lass (8)
GUNMETAL: A 5-letter word meaning ‘not achieved’ goes inside (in clutches of) a dialect word for girl

12a    Lamp missing large strut (4)
COCK: Not quite sure here – a particular kind (shape) of lamp(?) is missing the abbreviation for large. I might be thinking of a more French spelling for a kind of lamp. Unless lamp is a slang word for face or to spot something. (Ah, lamp is slang for hit or clock, see gazza’s comment)

13a    Follows only one side of 26 (5)
TAILS: Obvious once you have 26d

14a    Mo is amused, having not led (4)
TICK: A 7-letter word meaning amused has the LED at the end removed

17a    Tailored new light toga for old friend (3,5,4)
GET ALONG WITH: Friend is an archaic (old) word for befriend. An anagram (tailored) of NEW LIGHT TOGA

20a    Variety of prune I planted in farmland that’s no use any more (12)
UNREPAIRABLE: An anagram (variety) of PRUNE, then I from the clue is inserted into (planted in) a word that normally means cultivatable, but it can also be a noun meaning farmland

23a    80 per cent reflect light (4)
THIN: The first 4 letters (80%) of a word meaning reflect or contemplate

24a    Toothless chap winning Masters (5)
GUMMY: An informal word for a chap contains two times the abbreviation for Master

25a    Ted Heath got rid of these
styles (4)
BOBS: Two meanings, for the first, think decimalisation of currency

28a    He regulates AWG when piercing vital body part (8)
LAWGIVER: AWG from the clue is inserted into (when piercing) a vital organ which is rumoured to be affected by alcohol. American Wire Gauge, apparently.

29a    Boat from Italy entering part of German port before noon (6)
BIREME: The IVR for Italy is inserted into (entering) the part of a 6-letter German port that comes before the abbreviation for noon

30a    Radical overhaul of clergy — youthful cleared out (8)
GLYCERYL: An anagram (overhaul) of CLERGY and Y(outhfu)L without the inner letters (cleared out)

31a    It’s a Sin is all done and dusted (6)
AGREED:  A from the clue plus a sin


1d    Near palace, walk flapper about how old? (8)
BIRDCAGE: A feathered friend, the Latin abbreviation for about, and a word that can mean ‘how old?’. St James’s Park by Buckingham palace

2d    Sponsor exposed team scandal (8)
ATROCITY: Take a 6-letter word for a sponsor and remove the outer letters (exposed), then add a football team

3d    Mark can catch edge (4)
NICK: Four meanings. The 4th confused me, but apparently this is what you call the edge between wall and floor in squash (Ah, also a poor cricket shot apparently, thanks Gazza)

5d    Face this thrice and you’ll be hit for six! (6,6)
DOUBLE WHAMMY: A cryptic definition. Clearly, we need a word meaning twice in there somewhere. The other word means a hit

6d    Batty neighbour strikes last matches (4)
COMP: Nora, apparently, Last of the summer wine. Strike the last letter from her neighbour

7d    Rubbish game for Scottish side (6)
TATTIE: A 3-letter word for rubbish and a word for a game (normally in elimination play-offs)

8d    Nation’s villains polluted lake within outskirts of Davos (6)
DALEKS: An anagram (polluted) of LAKE goes inside (within) the outer letters (outskirts) of D(avo)S

11d    In conclusion, you say expert in flying and/or author (5-7)
SAINT-EXUPERY: An anagram (flying) of the last letter (in conclusion, …) of (yo)U SAY EXPERT IN. This author was an expert in flying, hence the ‘and/or’

15d    African ranger discovering new plant (5)
ELAND: A South African antelope resembling the elk. Removing the outer letters (dis-covering) ‘new’ and ‘plant’ intriguingly gives you the first 4 letters of the answer only. Is there a word missing? The more likely intention is probably a dis-covered ‘new’ plus a (stretch?)-synonym for plant

16d    Bits cut out from neutering? (5)
UTERI: A clever all-in-one. Hidden (bits cut out from … )

18d    Old, old boy on his own, writing note at the end (8)
OBSOLETE: The abbreviation for old boy, a word meaning ‘on his own’ or alone, then a note from the do-re-mi scale

19d    County meal day offers support for retirees (8)
BEDSTEAD: Not that kind of retiring. A 4-letter county abbreviation, a meal, and the abbreviation for day

21d    Camp reduced length of holiday, falling behind (6)
STALAG: The first 3 letters of a 4-letter word meaning a holiday or visit, then a word meaning to fall behind, but here it is nounal, a falling behind.

22d    Papers over first year in classic song of battle (6)
MIDWAY: Take a classic song by Frank Sinatra, and replace the first occurrence of the abbreviation for year with some identity papers. I had to look up the battle

26d    Sent off sides of dregs a bit? Less (4)
DIME: Two bits is a quarter, so … Take an 8-letter word meaning dregs and remove ((sent off) the outer letters (sides) leaving you with a 4-letter word SE….NT (from the clue) from the outer sides (SENT off sides from …). Thank you NogBad!

27d    Rat eaten by apes in Greystoke (4)
SING: Hidden (eaten by … )

My two favourites were the clever 11d and 16d. Which clues did you like?

28 comments on “Toughie 2820

  1. Like Dutch I started with 1a and then stared for a while until it fell into place, the Nina sadly only revealing itself when it was too late to help. It seemed to be one of those crosswords where it helped to know ‘stuff’ eg 9a, 25a, 29a, 1d,6d, 8d, 11d and 22d. I did like the four definition 3d

    12a The word you remove the L from and ‘lamp’ can both mean to thump someone. Plant in 15d can mean to land a blow

    Thanks to Artix and Dutch

  2. This is a proper Toughie which I enjoyed a lot although it looked quite daunting on initial viewing. I was held up especially by some of the 4-letter answers. Thanks to Artix and Dutch.

    The 9a Trump is Judd, a snooker player.
    I think that the 12a lamp is an informal verb to hit or clock someone.
    I took the 4th definition in 3d to be a verb, as used for a poor cricket shot.

    I’ve never heard of the 11d character so I needed a few experiments with what I hoped was the fodder followed by some Googling.

    Top clues for me were 25a (because it was my last answer, earning a tea-tray moment when I got it), 22d and 26d.

    1. He was a 1st WW French pilot, and wrote Vol de Nuit, his experience s of night flying, if I remember correctly. French A level 1969!

  3. Thanks for the blog, Dutch , as I would never have worked out 11d and quite a few others.
    I still can’t figure out what the abbreviation for noon is in 29a.
    I liked 5d and 28a.Favourite was 21d.

    1. You need the letters in the name of the German port that appear before the N (noon). A different method for a ‘lose a letter’ piece of wordplay

  4. 25a was my last one in too, and also with a big ‘clang’. Wow, this was hard – a lot of staring indeed, but very satisfying. And I have literally just seen the Nina after staring a lot more, but how pleasing when you do see it. Wonderful stuff, but Artix, you are a fiend!

  5. Took me ages, even with electronic help, but am on holiday on a dull day so who cares?
    Please, though, can we be given a hint for solving the Nina? I can rarely spot one and even if I can it never helps me with the solving of the crossword, but neither does a pangram so it must be my one- dimensional thought path.
    *****/* again, like most Fridays.

    1. Start with 23a and look across that row

      There’s another similar set in the Acrosses and two in the Downs

  6. Blimey that was hard! I had two goes at this to finish it, and just about got all the parsing done. The Nina is a total mystery to me and will probably remain so. I think the fourth definition in 3d is a cricketing term, where a batsman nicks or edges through to the wicket keeper or slips. 12 and 25a were my favourites.

    My thanks to Artix for a really tough Toughie and to Dutch for unravelling it.

  7. As tough as Elgar. Last week’s Friday didn’t get finished until Sunday, but with a busy weekend coming I had to surrender to this one and use the hints for the many spaces on the left side.
    Some really tricky wordplay and as for 11d…..
    Thanks to Dutch for the help and to Artix for defeating me.
    The Nina(s) might have helped, but didn’t as even the 6d one went unspotted.

  8. That was tough. I finally resorted to the hints for 6d and to find the D in 15d. Needless to say the Ninas escaped me. Thanks to Artix and Dutch.

  9. In common with many others, I too needed many of Dutch’s extremely helpful hints. I believe your parsing of 26d may be missing the fact that it is SE….NT needing to be removed from “dregs”; and possibly the last four letters of 15d mean what they say, as in to “plant” (a plane, perhaps)? Although I am no aviator… So, most of today’s thanks go to Dutch, with a few left over for the formidable challenge set by Artix.

    1. NB. I parsed 15d as Dutch’s second suggestion in the review, with plant = land as in to deal/deliver: To plant/land a blow on someone’s ear. Or plant/land a kiss on someone’s cheek. Not particularly stretched, in my opinion.

  10. I think “plant” in 15d is meant in the sense of to plant a punch or kiss and thus is synonymous with “land”.

  11. Rather you than me Dutch. Rather anybody else but me. Thanks to all concerned but way outside my capabilities

  12. Much of this was well beyond my modest capabilities and as always I am very grateful for the explanations. In 6d I recognised Compo as Nora Batty’s neighbour which yielded comp. Which, after seeing the conformation here, I only now realise is street slang for competition as in a set of football matches. I do not mind the occasional word I have never come across (GLYCERYL) or a person I have never heard of (SAINT-EXUPERY) but street slang seems a bit pathetic.

  13. I found this one ridiculously easy for a Toughie. I do not think it would have been out of place on the back page. */* for me I’m afraid!

  14. I think it was a bit over the top bit i did enjoy the ninas, perhaps the setter was being a bit too clever by half

  15. Draw me a sheep as Le Petit Prince would say. This book from 11d has been read by each and every schoolchildren in France for generations.
    A few clues were a leap forward which paid off and some others were solved from parsing but definitions eluded me.
    Just saw the Nina. Cheers. Can’t wait to drink my first Pimm’s.
    Thanks to Atrix and to Dutch.

Comments are closed.