Sunday Toughie 8 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 8

Sunday Toughie No 8 by Zandio

Review by Sloop John Bee

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This puzzle was published on 20th March 2022


1 Check on politician’s instinct — is it red or blue? (6,4)
LITMUS TEST: We start with quite a tricky little political metaphor – “a question asked of a potential candidate for high office, the answer to which would determine whether the nominating official would proceed with the appointment or nomination” The red or blue here are not one’s political colours but the indicator results of the examination on which the metaphor is based.
From Wikipedia,
A litmus test is a question asked of a potential candidate for high office, the answer to which would determine whether the nominating official would proceed with the appointment or nomination. The expression is a metaphor based on the litmus test in chemistry, in which one is able to test the general acidity of a substance, but not its exact pH. Those who must approve a nominee, such as a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, may also be said to apply a litmus test to determine whether the nominee will receive their vote. In these contexts, the phrase comes up most often with respect to nominations to the judiciary.

6 Idiot’s on a cycle, very pleased with life? (4)
SMUG: Some plural Idiot’s or Mugs cycle the last letter to the first. To give the feeling ones gets when the toughie is solved.

9 Get fed up with declinequit or be fired (2,3)
GO OFF: RD contributed this 9a is a v clever quadruple definition. I had stopped looking long before the 4th def.

10 Reduction of tobacco’s tar I campaigned for here? (5,4)
COSTA RICA: Rabbit Dave again; Sloop, I don’t think the definition for 10a is that vague. Smoking was prohibited there about ten years ago. Making it a lurker and all in one – very clever.

12 Spell in charge of board that organises all matter of things (8,5)
PERIODIC TABLE: A spell of time, an abbreviation for In Charge and the board you serve food on, come together to give the organisational chart of all matter or elements.

14 That woman’s about this twisted inside –what guy would be up for a challenge? (8)
HERCULES: This in the clue refers to the clue itself. An anagram of clue (twisted) is inserted (inside) a plural female possessive. (HER[CULE]S) to give the Roman name for the ancient Greek hero challenged to many labours.

15 Psycho axe rampage uncovered — who thinks it’s a great joke? (6)
HOAXER: A lurker across the first three words

17 Villain swapped sides, as about to get arrested (6)
RASCAL:This from Prolixic; The AS from the clue and a two-letter abbreviation for about inside (to get arrested) by the abbreviations for right and left (as the abbreviation for right is on the left and the abbreviation for left is on the right, the sides are swapped). I love it when people help with the ones I struggle to explain. Thanks Prolixic.

19 Strolling player serenaded senorita in film, endlessly elegant (8)
MARIACHI: I am sure senorita Maria has been serenaded in many films but the two versions of West Side Story are the ones that came to mind. Add almost all (endlessly) of CHIc or elegant to give the strolling Mexican singer.

21 Celebrity Dunroamin? (9,4)
HOUSEHOLD NAME: Some people who have decided that they have found their “forever home” may give the place twee names like “Dunroamin” It is also how someone whose celebrity was known in many homes may be described.

24 Required money to succeed in a US city, regardless (2,3,4)
AT ANY RATE: More help from the blog – this time from Gazza I took the ‘required money’ to be the last word which follows (to succeed) ‘in a US city’ (2,1,2)

25 Limerick’s maybe using ‘flower’, to be followed by ‘hour’ (5)
IRISH: This time a “real” flower rather than a river and H for hour.

26 What headlights might catch with no time to drive away (4)
DEER: To drive away or DEtER loses t for time for the creature that occasionally leap across the road under the cover of darkness.

27 Self-evidently being sly about this crooked sport (5,5)
FIELD EVENT: Sly is about the fodder of this anagram. Remove sly from self evidently and make crooked the rest for the sports that take place inside the Athletics Track.


1 Sign diary: ‘With love’ (4)
LOGO: A diary (particularly of Starship’s captains) and the letter represented by love. Give any easily recognizable or significant badge or emblem used by a company, organization, etc as a trademark or symbol.

2 Account written up — nothing needs repeating, this officer swears! (7)
TROOPER: An account or REPORT is written up (reversed in a down clue) with the letter that looks like nothing repeated to give a police officer with a foul mouth – He swears like a Trooper!

3 Funny tale unfolded around tour getting diverted, worse luck (13)
UNFORTUNATELY: Anagram of words 1 2 (unfolded around) and 5 (getting diverted) Two anagrinds as we change each part separately.

4 Idle moment ended (4,4)
TICK OVER: A short moment of time and a synonym of ended give us the idling that a car may do while waiting in a traffic jam.

5 Food that makes South American welcome (5)
SUSHI: S for south and an abbreviation for (north) American US and a short greeting or welcome HI
SUSHI Sushi is a Japanese dish of prepared vinegared rice, usually with some sugar and salt, accompanied by a variety of ingredients, such as seafood, often raw, and vegetables.

7 Delivery slot one’s taken over — left package (7)
MAILBOX: One is or I AM is reversed (taken over) MAI add L for left and a package BOX for the slot your postman may use.

8 Mix up rare gift, it could be wrapped in yellow and pink inside (10)
GRAPEFRUIT: An anagram (mix) of the following three words. These usually have yellow skin but may be pink inside.

11 Independent will support scribe over rubbish, the writer’s confident (13)
AUTHORITATIVE: A “scribe” or AUTHOR, is supported by an abbreviation of I ndependent, then a colloquial piece of rubbish TAT and a contraction of something the writer may say when he is in possession of something. I’VE – AUTHORITATIVE

13 Archduchy is corrupt — king’s grasped where the bodies are buried (10)
CHURCHYARD: An anagram of ARCHDUCHY and R for king. For where (hopefully) dead bodies are laid to rest.

16 Obdurate hawk gets promotion, being aggressive (4,4)
HARD SELL: Synonyms of Obdurate – HARD and Hawk – SELL to give the sometimes aggressive promotion of goods for sale.

18 Meat roll as habit (7)
SAUSAGE: AS is rolled for SA and a synonym of habit USAGE come together for a supposed meat product. A lot of cheap bangers these days have very little or sometimes even NO meat at all. Grandad Emm would be spinning in his grave

20 Rift within church about vicars being halfcut (7)
CREVICE: about or Re. and half of VICars go in the Church of England for a rift or C RE VIC E

22 Arab, person known as Mr X, lifted boxes (5)
OMANI: Another from Prolixic; A three-letter word for a person known as Mr, Inside (boxes) and reversed (lifted) of how you would write X in Arabic numerals 10. O MAN I

23 Filmed try (4)
SHOT: a double definition to finish.