Toughie 2829 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2829

Toughie No 2829 by Serpent
Hints and tips by Stephen L

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

Hello everyone from a bright South Devon coast.
Today I have the great pleasure of blogging a very fine puzzle from Serpent for the first time.

Maybe a little tough for Tuesday, I only fully appreciated the skill and wit while doing the hints. As usual our setter has included a Nina, which if you look at the four solutions along the top and bottom of the grid you should spot.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.

1a Disgrace is able to stop boys regressing (7)
SCANDAL: An auxiliary verb meaning “is able” is inserted into (to stop) a reversal of some informal boys

5a These dealers scan in new order for congressman (7)
MONGERS: This is a compound anagram. You need to remove the letters that spell out the word SCAN from CONGRESSMAN and the solution is an anagram of what’s left.

9a Principal means of connecting old versions of Windows? (7)
LEADING: The Windows here are not on your PC but are made of glass and let light into your room. (old versions?) Double definition

10a Disregard for every command (7)
SKIPPER: A 4-letter synonym of disregard or omit is followed by a preposition meaning “for each”

11a Divorced adult upset date, crossing blurred line (9)
ALIENATED: The abbreviation for Adult plus an anagram (upset) of DATE go around (crossing) an anagram (blurred) of LINE

12a Baffle almost all senior university dons (5)
ELUDE: Start with a synonym of senior. Remove its last letter and the result “dons” the abbreviation for University. Clever clue.

13a Foolishly, withdrawn writer imprisoned in Stephen King novel (5)
INEPT: A reversal (withdrawn) of something we used to write with before texts etc became ubiquitous is placed inside a 1986 Stephen King novel.

15a Realise   something that may prove useful (9)
IMPLEMENT: Two meanings, realise here being in the sense of fulfill or accomplish.

17a Something ignored by pirate’s parrot completely (9)
COPYRIGHT: Synonyms of parrot as a verb and completely

19a Support for arm in cast (5)
SLING: Double definition, cast being a verb in the second.

22a Perform steps to primarily adopt new government cuts (5)
TANGO: The first letters (primarily) of the following three words “cuts” TO from the clue.

23a Reporter’s profligacy officially prevented what needs tightening when on a budget (9)
WAISTBAND: Homophones (reporter’s) of synonyms of profligacy and prevented in the sense of blocked.

25a Calypso’s exterior confused with minor character in Homer’s Odyssey (7)
OMICRON: Anagram (confused)of the outer letters of CalypsO and MINOR

26a Perhaps 4 have porridge outside (7)
TEATIME: Porridge here is a prison spell. It goes round a synonym of have in the sense of food. Nice clue and a real smiler.

27a What could be the point of building expensive housing for lease? (7)
STEEPLE: A synonym of expensive and the outer letters (housing) of the world LeasE. Another nice clue.

28a Those pursuing sceptic’s case share spoils (7)
CHASERS: Anagram (spoils) of the outer letters (case) of SceptiC and SHARE.


1d Complaint about colleague raised in student programmes (7)
SYLLABI: The complaint here is a common gut problem and its initials go around a colleague. Reverse (raised) the result. Very clever.

2d Greedy character ordered caviare (7)
AVARICE: Anagram (ordered) of CAVIARE.

3d Pub serving mixers and spirits? (5)
DJINN: I think the mixers here are people who mix music? They are followed by a pub or tavern.

4d Fast and sudden reduction in weight after taking ecstasy (9)
LIGHTNING: The present participle of a verb meaning to reduce weight or make less heavy loses (after taking) the abbreviation for Ecstasy.

5d Thought practice is inspired by doctor (5)
MUSED: A synonym of practice is inserted into (inspired by) one of the usual abbreviations for a doctor. Gives me the opportunity (not that I need any excuses) to play this.

6d Make fewer enquiries about the author being silent? (9)
NOISELESS: A synonym of silent, without sound. If you remove the personal pronoun that represents “the author” and split the solution  4-4 you’ll see how the wordplay works. A real smiler.

7d Enthusiastically embrace Internet bride? (7)
ESPOUSE: Split 1-6 this could describe an internet partner.

8d Present broadcast that has an audible hiss? (7)
SERPENT: Anagram (broadcast) of PRESENT. The setter has modestly given himself a name check!

14d In public, British Rail backed support for type of engine (9)
TURBOPROP: Start with a word meaning public, not hidden. Pace it around the abbreviation for British Rail and reverse (backed) the result. Add a support.

16d Nationalist Party very much in charge following strike (9)
PATRIOTIC: An word which could mean to party very much and the abbreviation for In Charge follow a synonym of strike.

17d Guy is welcoming feasible, positive things (7)
CATIONS: An old fashioned word for a guy, often associated with music is followed by IS from the clue placed around (welcoming) a 2-letter word that could mean feasible

18d Thoughtful and dear partner no longer leaves (7)
PENSIVE: A synonym of dear in the sense of pricey loses the usual prefix for one’s former partner.

20d Believe international publication has censored extreme letters (7)
IMAGINE: The abbreviation for International and a publication which loses (has censored) the two “extreme” letters of the alphabet. Great clue, my favourite.

21d Powerful figure possessed by suppressed dogma following revolution (7)
GODDESS: Hidden and reversed (possessed by) in the clue. Took me a while to spot this.

23d Start to show embarrassment with trendy church (5)
WINCE: The abbreviation for With, a synonym of trendy or fashionable and the abbreviation for Church of England.

24d What may come to a head regularly during trip abroad? (5)
TIARA: Regular letters of TrIp AbRoAd.

Tough but a great puzzle, thank you Serpent.


28 comments on “Toughie 2829

  1. Serpent’s always good, and this was no exception. As is traditional I entirely failed to spot the Nina or to think to look for one, though this one is all but staring one in the face. Ho hum. I especially liked 3d, 26a (nice misdirection – I spent ages wondering what it had to do with 4d) and 1d, even if it the outer part of the clue strikes rather close to home. Well, we all have our cross. Thanks also to Stephen for a lovely blog.

  2. Great stuff from a top compiler – thanks to 8d and SL.

    We seem to be getting more compound anagrams (like 5a) these days – Prolixic will be pleased because it’s a favourite clue type of his.

    From a long shortlist I’ve chosen 26a, 27a and 20d for my podium.

  3. Another superb Toughie from Serpent although, once again, I’m totally mystified as to what he is doing here on a Tuesday, this one would have been perfect for a Thursday or even a Friday

    The Nina runs down the sides of the crossword too

    Thanks very much to Serpent and to SL – my favourite is 26a

    1. No need for him to go to Friday – Thursday would be a perfect stopping-off place. :D

  4. Great stuff thanks Serpent.
    A bit tougher than most Tuesday offerings and the SW was slowest to yield.
    Thanks also for the blog, apart from the cartoon!

  5. Found this a very satisfying but tough slog, and would not have been surprised were today Friday, not Tuesday. Tackled a-c from the NW with 5a my LOI – having swiftly cracked yesterday’s backpage compound anagram I was disappointed not to have parsed this one until coming here! Nina not looked for or spotted until reading the blog. A 4 * Toughie on my scale. 26a my COTD by a country mile – spent ages trying to get ‘IV’ into it.

    Many thanks to Serpent, and to SL.

  6. Managed about half before a couple of hints opened up the rest of the puzzle for me. I particularly liked 25a ( one of my first solves) after deciding the list of Odyssey characters was a red herring,

  7. A real teaser and no mistake guvnor. I too was misled by the 4 in 26 across. 4 down reminded me of the time I made a precision sine bar and put lightening holes along its length perfectly bored out to whatever sizes they were supposed to be. Not a micron more or less. Thanks to Serpent for a wonderful Toughie puzzle. Thanks to Stephen L for the hints. So it wasn’t Ian Buncan Smith’s initials at 1 down?

  8. I thought this puzzle was more difficult than the usual Tuesday week opener,cleverly clued and certainly entertaining.
    Re 17d I have not seen the synonym for Guy before-not in Chambers, the usual one is an avid jazz fan, good job I’m a chemist !
    Last in was 5a-thanks to SL for the parsing as it eluded me.
    9a was nicely misleading and my favoutite was 25a for the ‘character’
    Did our setter slip in 8d just for fun.A ***/**** for me

  9. I too found this really really difficult, when don’t I. I needed the hint to parse 26a which I just couldn’t see. Did the rest though so I’ll settle for that. Favourite was 14d. Thanks to Serpent and SL.

  10. Top drawer entertainment from one of my favourite setters that was delightfully tricky and a real test of our ability to unravel. I will pick 26a as my COTD although it could have any of them.

    My thanks to the aforementioned and to SL.

  11. Get thee to Thursday, Serpent! Where is Chalicea when you need her? Thanks to Stephen for the hints for both 17s and 1d – couldn’t see them for looking. And of course thanks to the Snake.

    1. Haha, I know where you’re coming from NogBad (and I may have agreed with you when I was scratching my head somewhat this morning) but as pleasant as Chalicea puzzles are they really don’t deserve the “Toughie” epithet.

  12. Strangely tough for a Tuesday, especially with its compound anagram, and as a result this fine Thursday puzzle felt a little out of place for me. Had it been right, I’d gladly have shelled out a ***/****, as this compiler produces most pleasing puzzles.

  13. Delightful but very challenging Toughie for me, and I needed a wee bit of electronic help to finish, in the NE. It was that compound anagram wot done me in ultimately (or is that one called ‘subtractive’ as well?). I agree with Young Salopian: any clue could be my favourite, but I too will go with 26a. Serpent has become one of my favourite setters, so many thanks to him and to Stephen L who, I’m glad to see, smiled his way through the blog. Keep smiling, SL! Now to find the Nina….

      1. Hi Robert.
        Re 5a it’s tricky but as I see it the clue describes the solution as an anagram of congressman ONLY if you add the word scan to it so is a compound anagram.
        Yes I did smile a lot, an indication of how much I enjoyed the puzzle and how skillful and witty the setter’s wordplay is. 😊

      1. Thanks, Gazza.

        I always struggle with compound / reverse / subtractive anagrams.

        It makes me wonder why indirect anagrams are verboten?

      2. Thanks Gazza, Ithink that will be my bedside reading for the next few Sundays!

  14. We have had quite a few compound/subtractive anagrams lately and boy are they tough to spot. I did OK today but had to come to the blog for a nudge in the home straight. Thanks SL. And thanks to Serpent too.

  15. Quality puzzle and an absolute delight to solve. Strangely the last in was the signature 8d.
    Thanks Serpent and SL.

  16. Still 4 shy in the NE but after taking umpteen stabs & 3 days to complete the Graun Prize I’m resolved (well for this week at least) to resist the temptation of letter reveals or hints. 1a&2d certainly gave a false impression as to how tough the puzzle has proved to be. Haven’t read the comments but it’s a ***** difficulty rating here. Cracking puzzle full of excellent clues. 4d&23a my joint favourites so far, a new word learnt at 17d & still struggling to parse 17a & wondering if Polly has owt to do with it.
    Thanks Serpent & to Stephen whose review I’ll read eventually.

  17. This was beyond me to finish by myself (fair enough; it’s a Toughie), but there were lots of clues I really enjoyed.

    Thank you Stephen for helping out and meaning I got to share in the fun. 7d was my favourite.

    1. You’re welcome Smylers. It’s comments like that that make the hints worth doing. Pleased to have helped.

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