Sunday Toughie 18 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 18 (Hints)

Sunday Toughie No 18 by Zandio

Hints and Tips by Sloop John Bee

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I took my time getting going last night but when the three lurkers (one reversed) revealed themselves in the SW corner I got on a roll. I was going to stick at 7 of 14 across and 7 of 14 down hints but a PDM on 12a just made the cut. I am not sure I have seen all there is to see in 18a either so I remain tolerant of some discussion.

As it is a Prize puzzle I can only hint at a few and hope that will give you the checkers and inspiration to go further. I’ll be back just after the closing date with the full blog. Don’t forget to follow BD’s instructions in RED at the bottom of the hints!

I hope I don’t have to redact any comments but I am new at this and don’t want to rock the boat. If in doubt, I’ll rub it out!

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also” Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions. Some hints follow: Remember the site rules and play nicely.


1a    Left Spain after report about weather front for ships (10)
A relatively easy one to start with. We begin with a weather report for shipping perhaps and add an abbreviation and an IVR code suggested by the first two words of the clue. A short raised deck at the fore-end of a ship

11a    Plenty with power not popular, having a following before (9)
A synonym of power loses the first two letters that popular suggest and replaces them with a from the clue and an abbreviation of following

12a    I have not got the wordplay nailed on this but here is something in the style of the answer.

Scoot on a cycle, green style (3,4)

The penny dropped while looking for images. A synonym of scoot cycles a letter and puts a green prefix at the end.

14a    Old messages when returning discharge roughly translatable pulses (4,8)
A synonym of discharge is reversed, adds on a roughly estimated about, and an anagram (translatable) of pulses.

18a    Secret line-up as might gather in A-lists? (6,6)
We have a secret that is concealed, and a line-up of topics to be discussed at a meeting perhaps. If there is any wordplay in the rest of the clue it still eludes me. As gathers or conceals a line up or list, therefore the list of topics for a meeting is concealed by as. (Reverse parsed thanks to Gazza and Spartacus)

23a    Count hearts — nothing that could shake up the pack (5-2)

26a    Place to take top off if only females go? (4)
A top adds off after the females go

Is that Smylers? Unlikely but I bet he recognises it though.

27a    Cash levy announced for essentials (5,5)
An informal term for cash and a homophone of a levy that Rishi Sunak is reluctant to call his “temporary, targeted energy-profits levy”


1d    Man with noted prints in diary, travelling south of France (6)
The IVR code for France and an anagram for diary.

3d    Turner lit up for display (9,5)
This turner is lit at displays on Bonfire Night.

7d    Fairly good boxing in retreat (8)
A synonym of good in a religious sense contains (boxing in) a retreat for a bird perhaps.

9d    Rush with kit to repair bowl over jelly (7,7)
I am not terribly fond of this jelly, Grandad Emm always said it smelt like a tart’s handbag! – An anagram of RUSH and KIT is followed by a synonym of to bowl over with pleasure.

15d    Crevices a lively river’s following (9)
A from the clue, a synonym of lively and another appearance for the North Yorkshire River that graces Wensleydale without leaving its name there. Although it gets a plural ‘s from the clue

Plenty of crevices there on the river in question at Aysgarth Falls.

17d    A record player I fixed in one day and connected (8)
Zandio has been generous here. A from the clue, someone who plays records on the radio perhaps I from the clue ONE from the clue and an abbreviation for Day. Put that together for something connected.

22d    Aviation equipment boom involving commercial for oxygen (5)
A loud noise or boom swaps O for oxygen and replaces it with a small commercial plug.

A lovely piece from The E St Band posted in celebration of securing tickets to see them next year

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14 comments on “Sunday Toughie 18 (Hints)

  1. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks to Zandio and SJB.
    I ticked 10a, 26a and 2d but my favourite was 6a which was my last answer.

    In 18a the answer identifies a lurker in the last word of the clue.

    1. Ah I see it now, a sort of reverse lurker. V well hidden indeed and with three others I forgot to look for more.

  2. I followed the 90/90 rule with this puzzle, in that the last 10% took 90% of the time. Well, not quite – but after making swift inroads I got completely stuck with 6a/7d. Eventually I convinced myself regarding 6a, and then realised I had made very heavy weather of a fairly straightforward 7d. Another good challenge provided by Zandio, with my favourites being 10a, 26a, 27a, 1d, 2d, 17d and 19d. Thanks for the hints, SJB – by the way, you have annotated the down clues with ‘a’s instead of ‘d’s. Regarding 18a, the letters ‘a’ and ‘s’ appear twice in the wordplay…

    1. Actually ‘a’ and ‘s’ each appear 3 times in the wordplay, but only twice meaningfully!

        1. Indeed – those are my two ‘meaningful’ appearances.
          P.S. Thanks again for a great NTSPP yesterday!

  3. Before I post my comment, SJB, I still do not understand 26a and spent a restless night trying to make sense of ‘females’ in the clue. What am I missing? The main problem may be that the only 26a I know of is in Venice; it’s not a thing we have in these Benighted States…or at least we do not call it that. I’ll be back.

    1. I seem to have forgotten to underline a definition. The place in question is an open air swimming pool (where removal of tops and other clothing is de rigeur) that takes its name from the Venetian island you mentioned. The clue is a top/cap or *** followed by the word off after two abbreviations of female are removed. These pesky little 4 letter words are some of the hardest to parse. I had similar problems with the objective person in 6a.

      1. Got it. Thank you. Like you, I also had trouble with the objective person (me, the grammatical pedant!) in 6a. Yesterday, I longed to be in Penzance; today, I wouldn’t mind being in Venice, again.

        Except for those two 4-letter clues, I finished the puzzle on my own, though I failed miserably in trying to parse 18a, so thanks to Gazza, et al, for that assist. 12a remains my favourite (as it is the premier ‘style’ for me still), with 18a, 15d, & 1d taking ancillary honours. Thanks, John, for the review and to Zandio for a very nice, challenging puzzle.

  4. I have just turned to the FT look-alike puzzle pages and located the Sunday toughie. What an enormous grid. With a tiny, nay minuscule, font size and space for the clues; on the pink background, these are almost illegible to me, a VOAP who has little problem with day to day reading of the rest of the paper. Moan moan etc.
    Nice to have a toughie on a Sunday, but there’s masses of wasted space with oversized headers etc that could be adjusted. I’m not sure CL reads these comments, he hasn’t acknowledged previous moans. Young junior people with super eyesight inventing this format not appreciating older people’s needs
    Nuff said
    I’m expecting plenty of adverse feedback

  5. Ha-ha, not me jumping in at the Ilkley 26A (and certainly not yet this year, brrr!) — but I did go down the slide a couple of times until a lifeguard complained it was only for children. Bah.

    Thank you, John, for all the hints. A Zandio puzzle is always fun, but their Toughies are a little beyond me aided.

  6. Hello, compiler here. Thanks for taking the trouble to analyse and discuss. Have a good week.

  7. Though well clued I found this a true toughie which took a good deal of head scratching to finish. After a slow start, the checkers helped me to pick up speed until I came to a halt with only 2d and 6a remaining. The pennies finally dropped on a return visit!
    Thanks to Zandio for the workout and SJB for the hints (not required this time). Note SJB…..One man’s meat etc….. sorry but The Boss is definitely not my cup of tea.

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