Toughie 2836 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2836

Toughie No 2836 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

An accessible puzzle with plenty of innovative clueing. It’s been a while since I have blogged a proXimal, nice to see him again.

Please leave a comment telling us how you did and what you thought.


1a    Monitored group of swimmers infested by parasites (7)
POLICED: A group of swimmers (e.g., whales) contains (infested by) some parasites

5a    Recalled what dissecting knife cut: brains (7)
EGGHEAD: A reversal (recalled) of a short word meaning ‘what?’ inside (dissecting) a 6-letter stabbing knife without the last letter (cut)

9a    A Parisian sad, leaving middle of charlotte free from jam (5)
UNGUM: ‘A’ in French (Parisian), then a 4-letter word meaning sad omitting (leaving) the central letter (middle) of charlotte

10a    Servants pushing back minute joints in centre of boat (9)
AMIDSHIPS: Some servants where the abbreviation for minute is pushed
back from first to second position, and some joints in the body

11a    Battle formerly with no love for fitness (10)
COMPETENCE: A 7-letter word meaning to battle or vie, then a 4-letter word meaning formerly from which the O is omitted (with no love)

12a    Luminary talks backwards (4)
STAR: A reversal (backwards) of a word meaning talks or squeals

14a    A limit restricting small cat with energy drink (4,8)
ASTI SPUMANTE: A from the clue, a 5-letter verb meaning to limit containing (restricting) the abbreviation for small and a member of the cat family, all followed by the abbreviation for energy

18a    Ace curried mixture in pastry combined with a fish dish (12)
TARAMASALATA: The abbreviation for Ace and a curry mixture or sauce go inside (in) a 4-letter pastry, then add a final A from the clue

21a    Reverse defeat (4)
UNDO: Two meanings

22a    Drunk duo might be talkative (10)
BIGMOUTHED: An anagram (drunk) of DUO MIGHT BE

25a    No-nonsense tutor discontented by charm (9)
TRENCHANT: T(uto)R from the clue without its inner letters (dis-contented) and a 7-letter word meaning to charm

26a    One who made drama of medical condition, case of exaggeration (5)
IBSEN: The 3-letter abbreviation for a stomach condition plus the outer letters (case) of exaggeration

27a    Authority conned to accept foreigner’s cash (7)
DOYENNE: A 4-letter word meaning conned goes around (to accept) a foreign currency

28a    City penthouses problematic with rent not dropping (7)
EPHESUS: An anagram (problematic) of PENTOUSES from which an anagram (rent) of NOT is removed (dropping)


1d    Maybe hook bearing a pot (6)
PAUNCH: What a hook exemplifies in boxing containing (bearing) A from the clue

2d    Swimmer bearing blocked by fool getting raised pulse, perhaps (6)
LEGUME: The reversal (getting raised) of a 3-letter fool inside (blocking) a 3-letter swimmer

3d    Awkward to handle cucumber, so messy sandwiches (10)
CUMBERSOME: Hidden ( … sandwiches)

4d    Bird switching ends in park to get such cover (5)
DRAPE: A male bird in which the K is replaced by P (switching ends in park)

5d    Bishop’s served up drink in church with old friend (9)
EPISCOPAL: The reversal (served up) of a 3-letter word for drink inside (in) the abbreviation of a church, then the abbreviation for old and a 3-letter friend

6d    It’s surprising how some people request peace (4)
GOSH: Split (2,2), the answer gives an answer to ‘how some people request peace’

7d    Real alien restricting figures going in opposing directions (8)
EXISTENT: The abbreviation for alien contains (restricting) two 3-letter numbers, one of which is reversed (going in opposite directions – i.e., away from each other)

8d    Wary detective hidden, joining both Europeans (8)
DISCREET: A 2-letter abbreviation for detective, then a word meaning hidden in which the first E is moved to join the second E (joining both Europeans)

13d    Clumsy samurai with the wound (10)
AMATEURISH: An anagram (wound) of SAMURAI + THE

15d    Spark from one new barrier after it’s lifted (9)
INSTIGATE: The Roman numeral for one, the abbreviation for new, then a 4-letter barrier comes after a reversal (lifted) of IT’S from the clue

16d    Swaggered around, supported by props (8)
STRUTTED: Two meanings, think peacock for the first

17d    Eccentric urged to interrupt boring toil (8)
DRUDGERY: An anagram (eccentric) of URGED goes inside (to interrupt) a word for boring or dull

19d    Spells ‘discombobulates’ as that sounds (6)
PHASES: A homophone (as that sounds) of a 5-letter word meaning discombobulates

20d    Becoming fellow who is a member of university staff? (6)
ADONIS: Split (1,3,2), the answer provides an answer to the question ‘who is a member of university staff?’

23d    Earthwork‘s annual check’s shown missing stone (5)
MOTTE: A (3,4) annual roadworthiness check without (shown missing) the abbreviation for stone

24d    Pass beam over front of sailing vessel (4)
SCAN: The first letter (front) of sailing, and a vessel or container

I liked the questions 6d & 18d. My favourite is the talkative drunk duo at 22a. Which clues did you like?

16 comments on “Toughie 2836

  1. This all came together quite nicely. 5a was my favourite. Thanks to proXimal and Dutch.

  2. I do enjoy proXimal’s puzzles – he combines clever wordplay with a gratifying lack of obscurities. Thanks to him and to Dutch.
    My podium today consists of 6d, 8d and 20d.

  3. With the help of a few letters here and there (10a, 23d), I finished this very enjoyable gem of a Toughie last night. I wished afterwards that I had waited, taken a break, and returned to finish (hopefully) on my own, but it was very late and I am no spring chicken. There. I just said what I should have said on previous occasions. Lots of joy here, especially with 22a, 10a, 6d, and, for personal reasons (because I’ve been there twice and loved the site), 28a. Thanks to Dutch and proXimal.

  4. Gentle for a Friday – not that I’m complaining. Very entertaining. 5a was the only one I had trouble with – semi-bung-in, if that’s a thing. Must go, busy day! Thanks to Dutch and our setter.

  5. Solved very early this morning thinking what a tough back pager it was so a relief to see it was actually the Toughie. A lovely puzzle. Lots of fun to solve. My only question is what is the rent for in 28 across? Thanks to ProXimal for the puzzle and to Dutch who’s review I am having difficulty reading outside the George and Dragon in Stoke Golding.

    1. The penthouse 😉 if you are asking why you need a second anagram indicator in a subtractive anagram, some do suggest that is unnecessary, because you could use the first to make EPHESUSNOT, then remove not. However, it is not wrong since you could create plenty of other permutations, so people like using them especially if NOT is not in the correct order in the fodder. A case where you can allow the surface reading to decide. 🤪

  6. Thank you ProXimal for giving us a Friday puzzle that was both enjoyable and challenging without being brain mangling. I’ve yet to fully parse it but hope to do later.
    Like his back pager I could have picked virtually any to go on the podium but I’ll go for 22a plus 6&19d, though 1d raised the biggest smile.
    Thanks also to Dutch. Good stuff

    1. That rule only applies to back-page puzzles where authorship is undisclosed. Thanks to Dutch for the review and to commenters for comments.

      1. Hi proximal, good of you to pop in. May I ask, is today’s back-pager one of yours or has someone been stealing your X’less signature?

  7. Needed Dutch’s help with the parsing of 8d and to sort out the 19d spells but otherwise OK – once I’d got past the urge to fit ‘henge’ into 23d.

    Thanks to proXimal and, of course, to Dutch for the review. Think I’ll celebrate Easter with a different drink to the one offered in the puzzle!

  8. A most enjoyable puzzle, with a great variey of clue types, wit and humour throughout, some super surface reads to go with the answers. Could have picked almost any of them for special mention, but will go for 18a – cracking clue from the surface to the solution.

    Many thanks to Proximal & to Dutch.

  9. Like most of the comments above, I found this an excellent puzzle with real challenges and very clever clues. One of the best on a Friday for a long time. Thanks to setter ****/**** for me. 14A was my favourite for the very clever misdirection. Great start to the Easter weekend.

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