Toughie 2827 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2827

Toughie No 2827 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

It’s been some considerable time since I had the pleasure of blogging a Sparks production so I was delighted to find him appearing on a Thursday. Thanks to him for the enjoyment.
He usually includes a Nina or similar in his grids. The only thing I can see here is a phrase in the centre of the top and bottom rows describing what passengers may do on boarding a plane. If you’ve spotted anything else do let me know.

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

Across Clues

1a Summits freeze in mountain range out of Lima (6)
APICES: insert a verb to freeze into a mountain range without the letter that Lima is used for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

5a Store dropping top bargain on which bangers can be picked up? (3,5)
TOW TRUCK: stick together a verb to store or put away without its first letter and a verb to bargain or barter.

9a Crude example of woolly person craving rapid downfall (4,6)
BASE JUMPER: charade of an adjective meaning crude or squalid and an example of a woolly.

10a Split in favour of king (4)
FORK: a preposition meaning ‘in favour of’ and the chess abbreviation for king.

11a Type of hospital Sacks recalled (8)
SANSERIF: an abbreviated hospital and the reversal of a verb meaning sacks. I can never see this word, especially given tomorrow’s date, without remembering the Guardian’s famous spoof.

12a Usher drove round mall, oddly detached (6)
HERALD: a drove or group of animals containing the even letters of mall.

13a Sharpness shown by wimp welcoming husband (4)
WHET: a wimp, using Mrs Thatcher’s word for a Tory with a social conscience, containing the genealogical abbreviation for husband.

15a Use most of month spanning a November evening for celebration (8)
HOGMANAY: start with a verb to use most of and add a month containing A and the letter November represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

18a Unwrapped Lilian Gold’s fresh flowers (8)
GLADIOLI: an anagram (fresh) of [L]ILIA[n] GOLD.

19a Job lot at an end — make inquiries (4)
TASK: the final letter of lot and a verb to make enquiries.

21a On time, put back canopy (6)
TESTER: string together a preposition meaning on or concerning, the abbreviation for time and a verb to put or place. Now reverse it all.

23a Who will make you live without imaginary demon? (8)
EXORCIST: a verb to live containing a malevolent creature from literature.

25a Student entering empty gorge (4)
GLUT: our usual student goes into a verb to empty or eviscerate.

26a Actors, maybe American guys, pressing sister about ring (5,5)
AGENT NOUNS: an abbreviation for American and posh guys contain a religious sister wrapped round the ring-shaped letter.

27a Screwed hinge tab secured (2,3,3)
IN THE BAG: an anagram (screwed) of HINGE TAB.

28a Might it show going rate? (6)
SPEEDO: an abbreviated instrument that displays how fast you’re going.

Down Clues

2d Marketplace name turned aside in original strategy? (5)
PLAZA: start with an original strategy (4,1) and turn the abbreviation for name through 90 degrees onto its side.

3d See doctor tweaked preserved deal, say? (9)
CREOSOTED: an anagram (tweaked) of SEE DOCTOR.

4d Fair question in division that’s not hard (6)
SQUARE: insert an abbreviation for question into a division or allotment without the pencil abbreviation for hard.

5d Chief protégé bit off small part that’s visible (3,2,3,7)

6d Ugly pigs turn sheepish, finally dividing trifle up (8)
WARTHOGS: insert a turn (in a board game, say) and the final letter of sheepish into a trifle or something of little value then reverse it all.

7d More prevalent line shunned by robber (5)
RIFER: a robber or pillager without the abbreviation for line.

8d Lots of vehicles crushing little creature, going around 50 (9)
CARTLOADS: types of road vehicles contain a smallish amphibian which in turn contains the Roman numeral for 50.

14d Peak hilly even when one is left wandering (9)
HELVELLYN: change the i of hilly to the abbreviation for left then make an anagram (wandering) of HLLLY EVEN. The answer is a peak in the Lake District (and the third-highest mountain in England).

16d Vegetable lorry with unopened throttle (9)
ARTICHOKE: glue together a big lorry and a verb to throttle without its opening letter.

17d Fret over having stoppage in post (8)
DOORJAMB: reverse a verb to fret or agonize about something containing a stoppage or congestion.

20d Ways unrestrained press covers court ruling (6)
ROUTES: the inner letters of press contain a court ruling (these days often confirmed by Hawkeye).

22d Tiny bird taps wee chappie (5)
TITCH: concatenate a tiny bird and the legend on your bathroom taps.

24d Council assumes holding yard should be erected (5)
SYNOD: a verb meaning assumes or puts on contains the abbreviation for yard, Now reverse it all.

The clues I liked best were 5a, 9a and 23a. Which one(s) made your hit list?

20 comments on “Toughie 2827

    1. How exciting!

      Gazza, Nina-wise you spotted more than I have, but then I never notice them… I liked this very much, spot on difficulty-wise for a Thursday. 6d was my last one in and I struggled to parse it, but got there in the end. 23a was my COTD. Thanks to you and to Sparks for the diversion.

  1. Just right for a Thursday so thank you very much to Sparks and Gazza. I note that I wrote on my piece of paper “LH OK, RH beast!”

    I noticed the luggage in the top and bottom rows. I also wondered if there was a pun to be had with the solutions of 4d and 20 but I couldn’t find anything else to match it.

  2. Certainly not an unaided finish for me. Got stuck in the NE & needed 2 letter reveals to crawl across the finish line in addition to hitting the check if all correct button a couple of times. Spotted the pangram early & it was a shame I wasn’t shy of a couple of letters for the ones I struggled with. Can’t say I knew what 26a were & reckon, if asked, I’d have just bunged an ES on the end if asked to pluralise the peak at 1a. Truck as a synonym for barter also new to me. Despite the struggle very enjoyable. Top 2 for me 9&23a.
    Thanks to Sparks & Gazza

  3. I struggled with this one. Not helped by positive Covid test this morning.
    Seemed to take ages and needed electronic assistance
    Although we were taught proper grammar I have no recollection of 26ac.
    Gazza’s help with parsing 6d 2d and 21ac much appreciated.
    Thanks to Sparks, a proper Thursday Toughie.

    1. North Devon, where I live, has the dubious distinction of having the highest Covid infection rates in the whole country so I was pleased to get my fourth jab earlier this week.

      1. I am high risk of anaphylactic shock (injections and bee stings), so was advised to attend hospital to have the jab under supervision – it has never happened
        Frankly I wouldn’t bother at all were it not for the social responsibility
        I think it is impossible to avoid, like a bad smell in a phone box and I’ve been had twice
        Can’t help but think it would have been better had we just carried on regardless
        Looking at the resultant chaos, we might just have well have done
        Sorry for ranting off topic BD

        1. A lot of people died. Many think 150,000 Johnson did not do enough. I think he never does enough, but that’s just me. I am very happy you are ok. Count your blessings.

          1. Cheers Dutch, I wish we could continue the discussion over a Guinness, but we can’t here
            Maybe see you in January if it’s on this year
            Count your blessings – wise words indeed my friend

        2. Thanks, to begin with, to our former POTUS, we are now on the threshold of one MILLION deaths in the United States. You think that Boris J hasn’t done enough, and I understand that, but imagine the hue and cry if he had suggested the use of Clorox to cure the virus or called it a hoax or did and said a thousand other things to worsen the problem, as our former bozo did, especially galvanising all of those anti-vaxxers.

  4. Many thanks Sparks and Gazza, a very enjoyable puzzle – spotted the pangram but not the luggage, nor the maths pun. Particularly liked the ‘name turned aside’ in 2d, so I’ll go for that as favourite amongst lots of good clues. (Until coming here, I thought it was a Django … so still have a way to go before I can ‘spot the setter’, though I think I can now recognise Beam and Elgar ‘trademarks’.)

  5. Needed Dan Word for 15a which then unlocked the RH side for me.
    My COTD is 14d. Such a joy when the answer just leaps off the page. It was my first one in.
    Travelling East tonight so I hope the white stuff holds off.

  6. An excellent puzzle that fully deserved the Toughie handle, and a pangram to boot. 9a was my top clue from a pretty long list of possibles. Thanks to Sparks for a great challenge and to Gazza.

  7. 9a and 8d were my ultimate waterloo. I’d never heard of the former and couldn’t come up with the ‘little creature’ in the latter. Had already used all 5 letters elsewhere, so my DNF is even more DNFer, ha ha. Believe it or not, I did enjoy the tremendous challenge last night. I was delighted at having twigged the Lake District peak, having enjoyed my visits thereabouts. Missed the pangram again: too busy just trying to survive. Thanks to Gazza and Sparks.

  8. A very satisfying solve. By the time I thought to see if the pangram might help me, it was already a pangram. I ticked 2d, but there were plenty to like.

    Thanks to Sparks and Gazza.

  9. Wow! That was hard. I checked the pangram too late and found I’d got all the letters so that didn’t help. I finally fell over the line with 9a, on the plus side I managed to parse everything. Favourite was 2d. Thanks to sparks and Gazza.

  10. Getting 2d, 4d, 11a and 3d in that order, I thought I was on a roll.
    That didn’t prove to be the case as I struggled to finish this fine offering.
    The SW being the last to yield.
    Took me a while to put the letters in 14d in the right order and was looking at Welsh peaks.
    Did spot the pangram but not the supposed Ninas.
    Thanks to Sparks for the great fun and to Gazza for the review.

  11. I didn’t do the puzzle. But like gazza said, surprise to see it Thursday instead of Friday, in particular because I imagine sparks might have like to exploit April 1st on different levels. Emery prices and other jokes.

    I very much enjoyed reading the blog, lovely puzzle, thanks all!

  12. Found the pangram but not any sign of a Nina. Most enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks Sparks and Gazza.

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