Toughie 2867 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2867

Toughie No 2867 by Artix

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

This is a proper Toughie with some inventive clueing – thanks to Artix. He sometimes provides us with a Nina but I can’t spot anything today.

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

Across Clues

1a Undisputed big guns? Not after this story! (3,5,6)
THE GREAT GATSBY: cryptically the title of this American novel could mean that the big guns are in the past (3,5,4,2).

9a For common Latin name, try Naked Azalea (found in New Zealand) (8)
GONZALEZ: a ‘speedy’ solve for me. Start with a try or turn then insert the inner letters of azalea into the IVR code for New Zealand.

10a Description of book written by rock band (5)
BLURB: either the definition here is just the first word (which is rather a stretch) or book is doing double duty. The abbreviation for book follows an English rock band from the 1990s (though, apparently, they are still going).

12a British heading off on hols (4)
OURS: drop the initial T from types of holidays.

13a According to court, missing hip muscle caused back cracking (2,8)
IN ABSENTIA: string together an adjective meaning hip or trendy, a stomach muscle, a verb meaning caused or ’caused to become’ and the reversal of an abbreviation meaning cracking or excellent.

15a Spoiled, with diameter awry? (8)
LOPSIDED: an anagram (awry) of SPOILED and the abbreviation for Diameter.

16a Assistant chasing knighted thespian guide… (6)
SHERPA: an assistant working exclusively for a single individual follows the surname of a knighted actor who died fairly recently.

18a …and what he does close to apoplectic members (6)
CLIMBS: the closing letter of apoplectic and some bodily members.

20a Nightmare as State knocked back help outside year block (8)
DYSTOPIA: reverse a synonym of help around the abbreviation for year and a verb to block or prevent.

23a Instrument from arrangement of baritone music? Not so (10)
TAMBOURINE: delete the Latin word meaning so or thus from BARITONE MUSIC and make an anagram (arrangement) of what remains.

24a Defect reported in nutty ingredient (4)
FLOR: apparently this is a yeasty growth with a nutty taste (new to me). I expect the homophone of a type of defect works for some people.

26a Fly beyond large tree (5)
LARCH: a synonym of fly (as an adjective) follows the clothing abbreviation for large.

27a Class defends sticky tape (8)
CASSETTE: a class in Hindu society includes an adjective meaning sticky or congealed.

28a Did he solo My Sweet Lord or share playing with e.g. Ringo? (6,8)
GEORGE HARRISON: a semi-all-in-one-clue. The answer is an anagram (playing) of OR SHARE EG RINGO.

Down Clues

2d Reason why some dilettante got ripped? (3-4)
EGO-TRIP: hidden in the clue.

3d When using Dictaphone, put up level (4)
RAZE: a homophone (when using Dictaphone) of a verb to put up.

4d What’s needed to screw tout le monde in French scheme (5,3)
ALLEN KEY: concatenate the English word for ‘tout le monde’, a French word for ‘in’ and a scheme or diagram of explanation.

5d Turn up with medal-winner from south Belvedere (6)
GAZEBO: reverse both a sharp change of direction (turn) and someone given an award.

6d Loathe debt, so ordered set menu (5,1’4)
TABLE D’HÔTE: an anagram (so ordered) of LOATHE DEBT.

7d Flatter schoolboy winning pound (7)
BLUNTER: a fictional schoolboy known as the fat owl contains the abbreviation for a pound sterling.

8d Charm rogue taken in by a supporter twice (11)
ABRACADABRA: a rogue or rotter is held between two occurrences of A and a female support garment.

11d Half-blown fuse to ruin basket in living room (4,7)
COAL SCUTTLE: the first half only of a verb to fuse or intermingle is followed by a verb to ruin (ships or chances, say).

14d 20’s ruler getting loads of grief about Queen? (3,7)
BIG BROTHER: a phrase (3,6) meaning loads of grief or great inconvenience contains the Latin abbreviation for queen.

17d Man told Asian with foot stuck above head where stretchers are? (8)
GYMNASIA: what sounds like a 3-letter male name is followed by ASIAN with its last letter promoted to the front.

19d Plunge one metre into river, not touching bottom (7)
IMMERSE: start with the Roman numeral for one then insert the abbreviation for metre into a river in NW England without its bottom letter.

21d Prefect joins Head of School for PE activity (7)
PILATES: this is not a school prefect but the prefect of Judea around 30 AD. Add the first letter of school.

22d Wise words from this student embarking on ordinary career (6)
ORACLE: insert our usual student into the abbreviation for ordinary and a verb to career or speed.

25d Drop by graveRIP (4)
TEAR: I tried for some time to make this a triple definition but I think it’s just a double, with the first a drop shed at a funeral and the second a (falsely-capitalised) verb to rip.

My ticks today went to 4d, 21d and 22d. Which one(s) did the business for you?

15 comments on “Toughie 2867
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  1. Totally agree – a proper toughie with inventive clueing, and great fun to solve. I’m not completely convinced by “sticky” in 27a but so what when so much of the rest is top-class. Out of many favourites I’ll nominate 15a, 4d, the bizarre 17d and the very clever 25d.
    Thanks to Artix and to Gazza for the blog and for explaining the last 2 letters of 1a.

  2. Thought this a belter of a puzzle, a super lunchtime brain-teaser. If felt very Times-ish, with there being several that I wrote in because they “just worked”, and parsed them afterwards, although I’m still uncertain as to the wordplay for the last two letters in 1a. Good to see the connection between 16a and 18a continue in the grid. Great clues, though, a whole shoal of red herrings, and I could have nominated any number for the podium but will limit to 9a, 23a (a PD moment there), 4d, 7d, 17d and 21d, with COTD to 28a.

    3* / 4*

    Many thanks to Artix and to Gazza.

  3. Thanks Artix for what I found a real brainstrainer, and thanks also to Gazza for parsing the second half of 25d.

  4. After the last two Toughies this was an awakener.
    Real head scratching and back to needing parsing assistance as usual…eg. 1ac 11d (half-blown fuse!)
    Clueing seemed a little unusual but it’s difficult to say quite why.
    Is the s in 13ac doing double duty as the muscle is abs not ab?
    24ac needed research but the rest just took time.
    Thanks to both as ever.
    ****/***

  5. Yes indeed, a proper Toughie that was both thoughtful and inventive. Like others, a few were unparsed bung-ins until lightbulb moments and a bit of Gazza sorted them out. 21d was my COTD ahead of 4d.

    Many thanks to Artix for the challenge and to Gazza.

  6. Great Puzzle . Struggled with schoolboy in 7d for a while . Guess the Setter must be my vintage , long time since the
    fat boy was on TV [ every day in my house ]
    Many thanks to Artix

  7. ‘Sticky’ gave me pause too I’m afraid, but it didn’t really detract from a fine puzzle. he difficulty up a notch today, as perhaps it should be, and I’m awarding a ***/ ****.

  8. I too failed on 24a so a dnf for me then. Needed the hints to parse 16a, (not heard of the actor) 5d, 11d and 25d. Favourite was 19d. Thanks to Artix and Gazza.

  9. 12a was our last one in and still not convinced that the synonym for ‘hols’ without even a question mark works.
    Managed to get everything else sorted but it did take quite some time and head scratching.
    Thanks Artix and Gazza.

  10. Reasonably straightforward apart from 12a. Not convinced! I think it is a poor clue.. and answer… but, hey ho, that’s obviously just me!

  11. Needed Gazza’s hints and parsings for a handful of clues–the nightmare state, the PE venues, the basket in the parlour, most notably–but I did enjoy the considerable challenge that this Toughie posed. Of those I solved unaided, my favourites are the 16/18a combination. I would never have solved 12a if I lived to be a hundred, and probably not 23a either, and I know I’d never pronounce it that way, as a Southerner in the Deep South. Thanks to Artix and to Gazza.

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