Toughie 2821 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2821

Toughie No 2821 by Robyn
Hints and tips by StephenL

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

Hello everyone from a blue skies South Devon. Today I have the great pleasure of blogging a puzzle from Robyn for the first time. No Tuesday Floughie but all fairly and craftily clued as we’ve come to expect from this setter. I thought it was quite superb.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Thoroughly awful, storing jousting equipment in stable (4-8)
WELL BALANCED: A short adverb meaning thoroughly is followed by a synonym of awful into which the only piece of jousting equipment I could think of is inserted

8a Gloomy place to sleep in Paris (5)
UNLIT: A French (in Paris) indefinite article and their word for a bed.

9a Make impervious barrier with very soft covering (4-5)
DAMP PROOF: Start with a barrier in a river or reservoir. Add the musical instruction to play very softly. Append a house covering

11a Disastrous vote-loser for one of two vote-winners (9)
ROOSEVELT: Anagram (disastrous) of the following two words gives the surname of two US presidents, both significantly better than recent incumbents.

12a Unknown competitors, not holding onto lead, accept defeat (5)
YIELD: A mathematical unknown plus some competitors losing their first letter (not holding onto lead)

13a Explosive story about strike before 1st of May (9)
FLAMMABLE: Begin with a story, a parable perhaps. Insert (about) a synonym of strike and the first letter of May.

16a Perhaps Lucifer‘s rage, after switching sides (5)
ANGEL: Take a synonym of rage and change the abbreviation for Right to the abbreviation for Left (after switching sides) Lucifer is believed to have been one before a fall from grace.

18a Posh backless dress seen around island (5)
CORFU: The letter that represents posh is followed by an informal word for a dress without its last letter (backless). Reverse the result.

19a Paper features in old lady’s clothing not right (9)
MASTHEADS: An affectionate name for an old lady plus the possessive S is followed by an informal word for some clothing or costumes with the abbreviation for Right removed.

20a Kind of music, 80 per cent country and electronic (5)
INDIE: One of my favourite genres of music is obtained placing the abbreviation for Electronic after four fifths of a large country.

Here’s one of its finest exponents.

22a Crude oil on short rifle back in WWI campaign (9)
GALLIPOLI: An anagram (crude) of OIL follows a reversal (back) of a synonym of rifle as a verb minus its last letter (short)

25a Number playing tie in blue getting bad name (9)
NOTORIETY: Start with two letters that could be an abbreviation for number. Add an informal name for the “blue” political party and insert into it an anagram (playing) of TIE.

26a Mob following security measure (5)
FLOCK: The abbreviation for Following and a security measure which requires a key to open.

27a Dancing appals hosts, hosting current ball to avoid (8,4)
HOSPITAL PASS: This jumped right out at me and produced a big smile. Anagram (dancing) of the following two words plus the symbol for electrical current. The ball is in a sporting context.


1d Exult in minor role with show (4,2,3)
WALK ON AIR: A small part in a film or play is followed by a synonym of show as a verb.

2d Means of shaping bilingual articles (5)
LATHE: Follow a French definite article with ours.

3d Mark of Harry getting abandoned by queen (5)
BADGE: A synonym of harry (ignore the capitalisation) has the Latin abbreviation for queen removed (getting abandoned by)

4d What may be fruitful measure introduced by untruths (4-5)
LIME TREES: Place a metric measure inside (introduced by) some falsehoods.

5d Power line knocked over during sleep remains a pain in the backside (5,4)
NAPPY RASH: Start with an informal word for a sleep. Add what remains after a fire. Insert into the result the abbreviation for Power and the reversal (knocked over) of the abbreviation for a RailwaY line.

6d Summon second person to accept fine (5)
EVOKE: The second person in the bible surrounds a synonym of fine.

7d Lay on party — it leaves things in a rotten state (12)
PUTREFACTION: A synonym of lay in the sense of place, a preposition meaning ‘on’ and a clique or cabal.

10d Manipulates signs of credit? I don’t believe it! (12)
FIDDLESTICKS: Another real smiler. A synonym of manipulates in the sense of deceives is followed by an old fashioned word for credit in the sense of money owed.

14d One could perhaps catch Jerry Maguire’s opening by river mouth (9)
MOUSETRAP: The Jerry here is Tom’s nemesis in the cartoon series. Start with the initial letter (opening) of Maguire. Add a river in Yorkshire and an informal name for one’s mouth. Great clue.

15d Breaking half of beer mugs, yet making invitation (2,2,5)
BE MY GUEST: Anagram (breaking) of half of the word BEer plus MUGS YET.

17d Chic jacket for girl feeling desire (9)
GLAMOROUS: The outside letters (jacket for) of GirL plus a word meaning feeling desire or romantic.

21d One on soft drinks during bash gets the same again (5)
DITTO. The letter that looks like the number one and someone on non alcoholic drinks go inside a bash or party.

23d True love found after pal finally set up (5)
LOYAL: Take the final letter of paL. Add the letter that represents love in tennis. Reverse (up in a down clue) a synonym of set.

24d Where pilots serve, loudly moving further on (5)

INFRA: Split the numeration 2-3 to give the military service where pilots serve. Then move the position of the abbreviation for the musical instruction to play loudly.

It was all first class but I’ve awarded medals to 27a plus 5, 10 & 14d . Which one’s did you like best?


21 comments on “Toughie 2821

  1. A crossword from one of my favourite setters which demonstrates exactly what a Tuesday or even a Wednesday Toughie should provide in terms of difficulty level and enjoyment.

    Most of the clues could go onto a long list of favourites but I’ll settle for 14d in top spot

    Thanks very much indeed to Robyn – more like these please, they’d be particularly good on a Wednesday ;) – and thanks also to StephenL

  2. Very enjoyable. Spent a while parsing 25a until I realised I had got the spelling wrong. I liked 11a once I had the checkers and the penny dropped. Thanks to Robyn and SL.

  3. This was, for me, just about the perfect Toughie; sympathetically and humorously clued, thoroughly enjoyable and difficult enough to make it a rewarding puzzle to solve. From a terrific number of worthies, 14d emerged as my favourite.

    Many thanks and congratulations to Robyn for a fine puzzle; thanks, too, to SL.

  4. Slightly more difficult than most early week toughies but just right for me.
    27ac was a shock answer and thanks for the clip above illustrating it as I’ve never heard of it before.
    Thanks to Robyn for a most enjoyable puzzle.

  5. I solved this with a smile at every clue thinking I wish this puzzle was mine to blog. Well done Robyn. Very inventive and refreshing. Thank you. An excellent blog too from Stephen L. What’s not to like about days like this?

  6. I thought I was going to really struggle with this getting only 5 clues on first pass, but slowly I got on wavelength and finished at a relative canter. Super puzzle. I agree that 14d was the COTD. Thanks to Robyn and SL.

  7. A superb puzzle – thanks to Robyn and StephenL.
    I ticked 1a, 27a and 5d but my favourite was the excellent 14d.

  8. I generally steer clear of this setter’s compilations but having thoroughly enjoyed one of his offerings elsewhere I decided to try some of his work here. Couple of horrors for me in the frightful ‘down with the kids’ speak in 1a and the unknown at 27a – although the latter does seem to be a very good description of the entire ‘sport’.
    Other than those, I very much liked the rest of the puzzle and packed the podium with 1,6,7,10&14d.

    Thanks to Robyn and to Stephen for the review.

  9. Absolutely brilliant, a wonderfully exciting Toughie, with 11a, 14d, & 22a at the top of a very distinguished list of top-notch clues. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a Toughie quite so much, with 11a creating a frisson of delight running all through me. Didn’t know an anagram could do that. Thanks to StephenL for his review, which I’ll read now, and kudos to Robyn.

  10. Ditto here.
    Really enjoyed the solve.
    Loved 8a bien sûr.
    27a was also new to me. Didn’t even follow the six Nations until I read in the news that France thrashed England and all the other teams. Cocorico.
    Should really change my avatar to the tricolore if I wasn’t so worried about our Ukrainian friends. 25000 of them have already found refuge in our beautiful country.
    Thanks to Robyn and to StephenL for the review.

    1. Congrats on taking that many refugees J-L
      I don’t think we have allowed even a third of that number.
      Maybe they could have Heliopolis before the Nudists go back for the summer!

  11. A very slow start today,solved in fits and starts, speeded up as the checking letters went in and tuned in to our setter.
    Like others 14a was my favourite.
    5d provided the D,oh moment, liked27a.
    Thanks to SL for the pics and our setter-a ***/**** for me.

  12. Thank you Robyn for a super puzzle which (in common with the cryptic) pushed me a couple of seconds into 2* time (I’m going to have to change my scoring system). No probs at all with parsing your excellent clues and resulting answers. But thanks too anyway to SL for your offerings.

  13. After 2 read throughs and not getting anywhere I thought this was completely beyond me. However I persevered and with lots of electronic help and inspired guesses, I got there. I particularly liked 5d and the clever 2d but my COTD was the French 8a.

  14. Thanks Robyn. A bit too tough for me today but enjoyable nonetheless. Your hints were flawless StephenL. Weirdly I was listening earlier today to the Dum Dum Girls version of that Smith’s song – so much perky misery packed into a pop song.

    1. Thanks GD, nice to know they’re appreciated. I’ll take a listen to the Dum Dum Girls version.

  15. Was about to give this up as a miserable failure, until 20 a yielded, then (very) slowly, one by one the others fell into place. All very fairly clued, with plenty of humour. I’ll join others in declaring 14d as favourite. Thanks to Robyn and StephenL.

  16. This is probably too late for anyone to see it, but many thanks indeed to StephenL for such an excellent blog, as well as to everyone dropping in to comment.

    1. Not too late for me sir! Thanks for popping by and for an excellent puzzle that everyone enjoyed.

  17. Managed to complete without having to look up any of the answers …..

    liked 10D ” Manipulates signs of credit? I don’t believe it! (12) “.

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