Toughie 2869 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2869

TOUGHIE 2869 by Robyn
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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Hello everyone from a gloriously sunny South Devon coast.

Today it’s Robyn’s turn to put us through our Toughie paces. Another gem from one of my favourite setters.

Please leave a comment telling us what you  thought.


1a.  Swallow’s plumage

DOWN: Double definition, one a verb, one a noun

3a. Made no blunders engaging chief for, perhaps? (6,4)

DOMAIN NAME: Anagram (blunders) of MADE NO incorporating a synonym of chief or most important

9a. Cream is a non-starter for dieters (4)
LITE: Remove the initial letter (non starter) from a synonym of cream in the sense of best

10a. Italian‘s decent housing cheap to lease, not wide (10)

FLORENTINE: A synonym of decent goes around (housing) a phrase (3-4) which describes something that is “cheap to lease”. Remove the abbreviation for Wide from the phrase

11a. Dish far from well done, something boring (7)

RAREBIT: A charade of how you would describe meat cooked lightly and a tool used for boring

13a. Short film without a rough cut shows way to get over depression (7)

VIADUCT: Place three of the five letters of a film, or an informal word for a short film around (without) A from the clue. Add an anagram of CUT

14a. Proposition of what Volkswagen factory may do (4,1,4,2)
MAKE A PASS AT: Split the solution 4-1-6 and you will see the wordplay. The six letter word is a rather nice VW model. A real smiler

18a. Working on tiny desk with mathematical base for calculus (6,5)
KIDNEY STONE: Anagram (working) of the following three words incorporating a mathematical base

21a. Jesus’s words, say, in article member of flock spies written the wrong way (7)
ARAMAIC: Start with an indefinite article, add a member of a flock in a non human sense and a reversal of some spies

22a. Dread donning grandpa’s coat hood in the US (7)

GANGSTA: Place a synonym of dread inside (donning) the outside letters (coat) of GrandpA

23a Hackneyed complaint of the rear reserves (10)

STOCKPILES: A synonym of hackneyed or commonplace is followed by a somewhat embarrassing medical complaint affecting one’s rear

24a. Philosopher mostly grand for the French (4)

MILL: This early 19th century philosopher (no me neither) is obtained by removing the final letter (mostly) of the French word for a thousand (grand)

25a. Eg, Napoleon’s country getting king in essence (10)

STRATEGIST:  Insert the Latin abbreviation for a king into a synonym of country and follow it with a word meaning the essence or substance of something.

26a. Getting on with cut from pay day (4)

AGED: Start with a synonym of pay as a noun. Remove its first letter. Add the abbreviation for Day


1d. Dumps 500 crude containers, after dumping one (8)

DOLDRUMS: Start with the Roman numeral for 500. Add some crude (in the sense of “black gold”) containers. Remove the letter that represents one

2d. Do some skimming? Leader of workers took terrible risk (5-3)

WATERSKI: The initial letter of Workers is followed by a synonym of took in the sense of ingested and an anagram (terrible) of risk.

4d. Old wimp punched by student in hooter (5)
OWLET: The abbreviation for Old is followed by a synonym of wimp into which the abbreviation for a Learner (student) is inserted

5d. Climber‘s current view leaving area in rare ground (9)
ARRIVISTE: Start with the abbreviation for the measurement of electrical current. Add a view without the abbreviation for Area. Insert the result into an anagram (ground) of RARE.

6d. Detached note, playing piano, by one with manual skill (3-8)
NON PARTISAN:  Follow the abbreviation for Note with a preposition that could mean playing. Add the abbreviation for Piano and a skilled manual worker.

7d. Dressed in a flipping rag, setter’s bad feeling (6)

ANIMUS: Start with A from the clue, add a reversal of a down-market tabloid (rag) into which is inserted an abbreviated form of I AM (the setter’s)

8d. Returns well and gets evenly around court (6)

ELECTS: The even letters of wElL plus the even letters of gEtS around the abbreviation for CourT

12d.Deplorable traffic is blot on centre of Exeter (5,6)

BLACK MARKET: A blot or a smudge is followed by (on in a down clue) the centre letters of ExETer. (Lovely Devon city by the way)

15d.  Illegally taking advanced search tool across Channel (9)

ABDUCTING: Start with the abbreviation for Advanced. Add a search engine (not Google!) and place it around a channel

16d. Promoting what those who dislike The Police may do (8)

BOOSTING: Split the solution 3-5 and think of The Police in a musical sense rather than those who seem to do anything but arrest criminals. LOL clue


17d. Flogged dogged soldiers assigned to the front (8)

RETAILED: Dogged here is a whimsical reference to the appendage on the rear of a dog. It’s preceded by (assigned to the front) some of crosswordland’s favourite soldiers. Another great clue.

19d Something saucy succeeded in dances (6)
SALSAS: Add the abbreviation for Succeeded to a tangy side dish.

20d. Spray Veronica’s skin with rain (6)

VAPOUR: Follow the outside letters (skin) of VeronicA with a synonym of rain as a verb

22d. Suspect clientele in Ritz, say, wanting tango (5)
GUESS:  Remove the letter that Tango represents in the phonetic alphabet from some patrons of the Ritz… or any other hotel.

Great stuff Robyn. In a strong field I’ve chosen to highlight 14,22&23a plus 6,16&17d. Which ones did you like?



20 comments on “Toughie 2869

  1. A superb Toughie -many thanks to Robyn (who is now one of my favourite setters) and StephenL.
    My ticks were awarded to 14a, 23a (LOL), 25a, 1d and 12d.

    I think the short film in 13a is just a 3-letter informal word.

    [The rather vital apostrophe in the 1a clue seems to have gone walkabout]

  2. As Stephen would say, great stuff! Elegant and amusing. Two LOL moments (14a, 16d) locked in a dead-heat for top honours. But I also very much liked 21a & 22a, with a special nod to my favourite philosopher (about whom I written odes of praise in this very blog before–a wild but lovely deja vu moment for me) in `24a. Thanks to StephenL for the enjoyable review and to Robyn, fast joining the premier ranks of compilers.

      1. So you said, SL! I must have missed that. And of course I meant to say, “I’d written”. Vision problems again.

  3. What an enjoyable solve. Thanks to Robyn for that and thanks to our Lord for the hints and tips

  4. After several weeks of starting with the back-pager and then planning on taking on the Toughie afterwards but failing to find the time I decided to swap it around today and started with this one.
    My first pass revealed only one answer and I nearly gave up, but persistence paid off in the end and I was very pleased to complete this good fun crossword.
    Like several others 14a and 16d were my favourites.
    Thanks to Robyn and StephenL!

  5. Excellent stuff for a Tuesday but not too easy. ** and **** are spot on. I can’t resist a bum joke, the crooked car manufacturer raised a smile too and the calculus was well disguised.
    Thanks to Robyn and SL.

  6. I fear that after a good encounter with a recent Sunday Robyn Toughie, my inability to get on their wavelength has returned with a vengeance and I didn’t really enjoy this sluggish solve. While the left hand third went in as swiftly as an early-week backpager, I ground to a halt and found this puzzle rather more challenging to complete than my subsequent reading of the completed grid would seem to merit. Struggled too often to see the definitions or fathom the wordplay.

    Having said that, an entirely fair and pleasantly modern-feeling crossword (albeit I think 7d would be clued rather differently in The Guardian. Thank heavens this is not The Guardian!) with no specialist knowledge required. Onwards & upwards, there are three more Toughies to come this week at least.

    Thank you to Robyn and to SL.

  7. I have yet to become a Robyn devotee but this one was well worth doing if only for the pleasure of hearing The Police again!
    Top clues for me were 12&16d.

    Thanks to Robyn and to Stephen for the great choice of music.

  8. Oh dear. Having completed the cryptic in 7 seconds over my PB, I imagined I was in for a Floughie Tuesday – ’twas not to be! NE held out, glanced at a couple of Stephen’s excellent hints to get that sorted, and had to submit three times (!) before 15d and 25a fell. So thanks Robyn for the work-out and Stephen for the nudges.

  9. I too had 1 answer on my first pass and my struggles continued throughout, not helped by some new words for me in 22a and 5d. The philosopher in 24a was new to me too as was the French word. Any road up I got there. Favourite was 14a with a number of other contenders. Thanks to Robyn for the challenge and SL.

  10. Sadly I just didn’t get on with this. After my brilliant solving of 18a I just didn’t expect it to be my only success.

  11. We seem to have made heavier weather of this one than most commenters are reporting. Not a quick solve for us at all. Did eventually get everything sorted and impressed by the quality of the clues with several well disguised definitions.
    Thanks Robyn and SL.

  12. Very very late and deserves not to be picked up, but did this late last night in bed and completed it this morning. I just wanted to say thankyou for 1d which was so brilliant I wrote it in the back of my Commonplace Book I keep by the bed with special things in. Things said by the children, the names of all the moons and wordy things like dormitory being an anagram of a dirty room.

  13. Brilliant toughie. Managed all apart from Napoleon. Spent ages looking for alternative names for France! Sorry. One day I won’t be five days papers behind.

    1. I read all the posts on my blog whenever they arrive Janet. Pleased you enjoyed the puzzle, it was great, and thanks for commenting.

  14. 3*/3*….
    liked 12D “Deplorable traffic is blot on centre of Exeter (5,6)”

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