Toughie 2844 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2844

Toughie No 2844 by Notabilis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

What a pleasure to blog a Notabilis again. A lovely puzzle full of clever misleads. Thanks CS for the illustration to 8d.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Giving up time for pay, one’s still working thus? (14)
PROFESSIONALLY: An anagram (working) of FOR PAY ONE’S S(t)ILL, omitting the ‘t’ (giving up time)

9a    Aromatic fruit, first of lotus species found in Australian town (8)
ALLSPICE: The first letter of lotus and the abbreviation for species go inside (found in) a town in central Australia

10a    Pull up dense undergrowth (5)
BRAKE: Two definitions, for the first, think of slowing down a car, the second I had to check

12a    One is welcoming muezzin’s prologue? (4)
IMAM: A (1,2) first-person way of saying ‘one is’ containing (welcoming) the first letter (prologue) of muezzin

13a    Exotic ivies’ll add rash (3-7)
ILL-ADVISED: An anagram (exotic) of IVIES’LL ADD

15a    Bulrushes in prime place once driving out area’s reeds (8)
BASSOONS: The first letter (in prime place) of bullrushes, then a (2,4,2) phrase that means ‘once’, but without (driving out) the abbreviation for area

16a    Instructive meeting where commander-in-chief holds nothing back (6)
CLINIC: The abbreviation for commander-in-chief contains (holds) a reversal (back) of a word meaning nothing or zero

18a    Work to rule grand city in the North West (2,4)
GO SLOW: The abbreviation for grand, a city in Scandinavia (the North), and the abbreviation for west

20a    Money order frees police force up (8)
MOUNTIES: The abbreviation for money order and another word for frees

23a    Host’s bread holder needs pill before eating salt (10)
TABERNACLE: A shortened form of a another word for pill, then a word meaning before containing (eating) the chemical formula for salt. I understand this church item contains the Eucharist (consecrated communion hosts) which is the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, bread and wine – no doubt others are more knowledgeable.

24a    Despicable English will come sooner or later in disguise (4)
VEIL: Move the abbreviation for English forward or backward (will come sooner or later) depending on which of two anagrammatic 4-letter words for despicable you are looking at

26a    Perpetually expressed in poetry that is like Poe‘s (5)
EERIE: A poetic version of a word meaning perpetually plus the abbreviation for ‘that is’

27a    Snitch collared by criminal that hasn’t left tip (8)
GRATUITY: A word meaning snitch or grass goes inside (collared by) an adjective meaning criminal but without (that hasn’t) the abbreviation for left

28a    Spread by dancers falls when they wear masks (5,5,4)


2d    Centre’s capital otherwise emulates landmark in Pisa? (7)
ORLEANS: Centre is a region in France. A 2-letter word for otherwise and a word that means ’emulates landmark in Pisa.

3d    Different inertia-reel seat belts (4)
ELSE: Hidden ( … belts)

4d    Restrictive strap that keeps suit up (8)
STIFLING: A strap, perhaps one supporting an arm in a cast, contains the reversal (up) of a verb meaning suit

5d    Speaker’s prevailed, to evaluate not allowing debate? (3-3)
ONE-WAY: A homophone (speaker’s) of words meaning prevailed and to evaluate

6d    John erected surrounding houses with unresolved issues (10)
AMBIVALENT: The reversal (erected) of a word meaning John that a word meaning ‘surrounding’ contains (houses)

7d    Cat embracing sloth’s a thing (7)
LIAISON: A big cat contains a 2-letter sloth as well as the ‘S

8d    Editor’s pitched into recurring case of Lane’s attraction of Kent (5,6)
LEEDS CASTLE: The abbreviation for editor, the ‘S, and another word for pitched are contained in two repeats of (recurring) the outer letters (case) of Lane. The surface, of course, refers to the superman story. This picture was taken by Cryptic Sue from a hot-air balloon

11d    Monstrous glove clutches note enclosing request (11)
MISBEGOTTEN: A 6-letter glove contains (clutches) a note on the do-re scale, which in turn contains (enclosing) a word meaning to request

14d    Gabby Logan’s article is replaced by rehashed timeless rhetoric (10)
LOGORRHEIC: LOG(an) from the clue in which the article is replaced by an anagram (rehashed) of RHE(t)ORIC without the ‘t’ (time-less)

17d    Care of a delicate fabric fringing fine exposed seam (8)
COALFACE: The abbreviation for care of, A from the clue, and a 4-letter delicate fabric containing (fringing) the abbreviation for fine

19d    America in turn uncovered answer for smaller region (7)
SUBAREA: A reversal (in turn) of the 2-letter abbreviation for America, an adjective meaning uncovered, and the abbreviation for answer

21d    Resisting disturbance from the south, island on western part of UK (7)
INERTIA: A reversal (from the south) of: another word for island, a short word meaning ‘on’ or ‘concerning’, and one of the countries in the UK

22d    Head off over the hill after fancy motor’s nicked (6)
JAGGED: A 4-letter word meaning ‘over the hill’ without the first letter (head off) follows a (shortened) brand of fancy car

25d    Suit used by fortune-teller dismissing core transitions in zodiac (4)
CUPS: A 5-letter word for the divisions between signs of the zodiac without the central letter (dismissing core)

A lot to like. I smiled at the all-in-ones. I liked the smooth long anagrams. I enjoyed the wordplay for 24a, nicely addressing an ambiguity. I think my favourites are 15a (reeds) and 17d (seams) for brilliant misleading surfaces. Which clues did you like?

18 comments on “Toughie 2844

  1. You know you miss Notabilis and wish he’d set the Toughie on a regular basis, but you don’t realise how much until you solve a crossword like today’s splendid Toughie. It took quite a while to get going and, if there was such a thing, this would probably be 6* difficulty, and enjoyment too come to that,.

    Such clever clues it is impossible to pick one favourite, although I could possibly choose 8d – one of the most expensive places to visit but well worth it, whether on the ground or up in a hot air balloon as we were seven years ago this week

    Thanks to Notabilis – please come back again very soon – and to Dutch

    1. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Leeds Castle since the M20 was opened, which doesn’t afford the view the A20 used to, and probably still does.

  2. Superb stuff – for me, actually slightlier easier than last week’s: I only gave it four-and-a-half for difficulty, but it can certainly have five-and-a-half for enjoyment. 15a was my biggest penny-drop for ‘once driving out area’ – thought I was going to have to resort to the blog to parse that for ages. And for some reason I spent an equally long time trying to figure out what kind of criminal activity ‘gluity’ is. The shame.

  3. How lovely to get an increasingly rare visit from Notabilis – thanks to him for a superb puzzle and to Dutch for the explanations.
    Some of the many clues I ticked were 5d, 14d and 22d but my favourite was the very clever 24a.

  4. Took me a while to get going on this thoroughly enjoyable challenge. A lot of ticks today. Thanks to Dutch and Notabilis.

  5. Something indeed to aspire to, even at my advanced age: solving a Notabilis masterpiece like this one. I enjoyed the time I spent working towards my substantial DNF last night, proud of the ones I solved (yes, I did spot the Kent site, though not from a hot air balloon, one of the ten I managed on my own, aided by the electronic elf). [My only hot air experience, save for all of those hours pontificating on my podia, was in the Assisi area of Italy.] Superb and sublime, with–of those I solved–24a my favourite. Thanks to Dutch and to Notabilis.

  6. Wow that was hard!
    Grateful to Dutch as usual for several parsings.
    In some way (wavelength?) more accessible than Elgar.
    The undergrowth and the sloth were new.
    Lots of brilliant misleading clues for high level of enjoyment.

    1. I’m inclined to agree with you, Chris – this felt more accessible, though to me just as challenging.

  7. That was a good challenge, a Toughie on a par with an Elgar IMV. Didn’t spot the anagram in 1a and just thought it was an all-in-one, and couldn’t parse 15a and 21d for the life of me, so thank you Dutch for the invaluable review. 8d my COTD but to be honest I could nominate any of a dozen, with 7d running it close.

    Thank you for an excellent work-out, Notabilis.

  8. Agree with cryptic Sue — a brilliant puzzle. I also agree that it was relatively hard, but it IS Friday.

  9. A rare masterpiece from an all-too-rare master. Favourites were 18a [Oslo is such a useful city] 20a [police force up] and the magnificent 24a. Did anyone else spend ages trying to parse Siberia for 19d?
    Thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch.

  10. Phew! Well I got there in the end, and it wasn’t until I finished and went through it again that I fully appreciated the craft and guile that went into it. Quite superb. I am not going to nominate a favourite although I was proud to work out Gabby Logan. Masterful.

    Many thanks and congratulations to Notabilis, and thanks too, to Dutch for unravelling those I had not fully parsed.

  11. Failed on quite a few on the West side.
    The Russian doll in 11d was just impossible for me.
    Besides, I dislike anything Russian at the moment.
    Loved 23a. Always makes me laugh as it is a swear word in Canada.
    Thanks to Notabilis and to Dutch for all the help.

    1. Mrs Fez used to live in Canada so following your comment I asked about 23a …. well, that was educational! :-O

  12. Very hard work for us but perseverance got us there eventually with a great sense of satisfaction. We even knew 8d as we had visited there many years ago.
    Thanks Notabilis and Dutch,

  13. Had to resort to the hints this morning, having only managed to solve 10 yesterday. I was on the right track with several more, but couldn’t see the way through. 11 and 14d we’re off the scale!
    Thanks to Dutch for his help, and Notabilis for the puzzle

  14. Thanks for the comments, which I’ve only now seen because I forgot about the puzzle when it was published. I would write more puzzles if I had time and energy – it’s a draining process!
    It seems no one spotted the Nina (in the corners).

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