Sunday Toughie 21 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 21 (Hints)

Sunday Toughie No 21 by Robyn

Hints and Tips by Sloop John Bee

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Another tricky toughie that delayed the final swig of Laphroiagh until the wee small hours. I am awake now, refreshed and suitably caffeinated, ready to hint at today’s Robyn Toughie. As is usual for these toughies I am struggling to curtail my hinting to about half. Pictures may help to nudge in the right direction.

In Big Dave’s absence, Tilsit has been taking his responsibilities as the head of the Village Elders seriously and has been exercising his RED pencil on some comments. He may even want to cut some of my hints down!

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! I think that sentence is a bit redundant. You have all been so helpful in sorting out prior failures of parsing and I am sure I will need similar help again.

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 Commotion, having drink knocked back after drink (6)
A sailor’s drink is followed by a reversal (knocked back) of the action of taking a drink.

5a Return of problem forces beginner to make wine (8)
Return is another reversal indicator here. Reverse the kind of problems that you may use arithmetic for. add a military beginner and you should have made a nice glass of white wine from the lower Loire valley.
Boozing in the first two clues I hope I stay sober enough to finish today!

11a Call to engage team working in undesirable post (4,4)
This undesirable post is an anagram of team, contained in how you may call a cab.

Hate mail | ,

13a Gathering English rap covers showing culture (3,5)
A synonym of rap contains E for English followed by some culture vulture types who claim that a quintessentially British beverage ended up in Boston Harbour because it had Tacks in!

21a Papers penned by mostly puffed up ex-president (8)
The previous incumbent of the Oval Office was often described by this puffed-up adjective, we need to use all bar the last letter of this adjective and insert some official papers to make another ex-president, but not an American one.


The pic could hint 21 or 22

22a Some bread sandwiches dry before I interfere (4,2)
A small bread roll contains one who is abstemiously dry and I from the clue.

24a Prosperous start of week after 33% cut in capital (8)
I don’t want to start a debate about what is the start of a week, but our setter and ISO 8601 are in agreement. Cut the final two letters of a day of the week and append it to a synonym of prosperous. A study of World Capitals may not help, but a study of State Capitals may yield more results.

25a Bread-maker’s apprentice not opening (6)
An apprentice is continuing his education in work. A word for someone in education loses its first letter (not opening) and becomes someone who has the wherewithal to provide “bread” for the household.




2d Mostly mock child showing a lack of sense (8)
Most of a synonym of mock or ersatz and a male child, shows a lack of sense.

3d Cases of aide heading for Egypt wearing shades (8)
An abbreviated aide, the heading for Egypt and some shades of colour are combined to make some medical cases.

The Importance of Using Eye Safety Protection at the Dentist

5d Extra fat butter? It’s beneath e.g. lid made fancy (6-3,6)
The extra fat that time bestows upon waistlines is an anagram of three words in the clue and the butter or similar you may have overindulged in on your toast to cause this bulging waistline.

6d Half-hearted on-screen presence back in comedy (7)
A pointer that helps navigate computer screens and the back letter of comedy.

Rugby World Cup final: Jonny Wilkinson leaves the TV studio to provide drop- goal masterclass | Sport | The Times

8 Hear pop star having romantic encounters (8)
Have a go and hear this you may like it.

14d Means to retain worker with energy in important post (5,4)
A piece of equipment that is a means to an end, contains a short-term replacement worker and appends an E for energy.
Two important posts here;

16d Drug that makes you go wild I tried outside upper-class clubs (8)
One who Nancy Mitford may have considered upper-class, The letter that the club suit of cards suggests go in an anagram of I tried. The drug that made the littlest piggy go wee wee wee all the way home.

19d Soldiers welcoming European fighter’s practicality (7)
I am not 100% sure I have got this correct but I started with a particular rank of soldier, who is the most senior non-commissioned officer, around (welcoming) E for European, and a fighter who many consider the greatest boxer of all time.

As CS points out it is much better explained as some seaborne troops around the E and the great fighter can keep the plural in the clue.


That’s all folks I have hinted at more than half of the clues and hope that helps you to find the rest. Quite a few double unches today but also a couple of clues that have zero unchecked letters that should solve themselves.

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12 comments on “Sunday Toughie 21 (Hints)
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  1. A very tricky crossword but the usual entertainment from one of my favourite setters. Thanks to Robyn and SJB

    I parsed 19d as the abbreviation for the Navy’s amphibious troops, into which is inserted the abbreviation for European and the ‘fighter’ not forgetting the S!

    1. I did have my doubts as the fighter was singular, your interpretation makes more sense than mine. I don’t think it would be a Sunday Toughie without a mistake in parsing from the Beehive.

  2. Lovely stuff and more than worthy of the Toughie tag. Thanks to Robyn and SJB.

    Top clues for me were 5a, 13a, 6d, 14d and 18d.

  3. Needed 4 letter hints to complete this stinker (thanks Robyn!), but when at last it all fell, the parsings were fair and made sense. Thanks SJB, and I agree about the ship-borne troops, CS.

  4. Fought my way through this labouring under the misapprehension that it was today’s back-pager and Dada was being evil-minded.
    Tops for me were 9,11&21a.

    Thanks to Robyn and to JB who certainly earned his whisky with this one!

  5. Found this one very tough indeed. Needed several of SJB’s hints to complete all but 10a, on which I’m still stuck, having wracked my brain off and on since last night. Any nudge there would be appreciated. Really first-rate Toughie, with Robyn (one of the premier compilers these days) proving tougher than ever before for me. Ticks to 21a, 13a, 14d, 18d, and maybe 10a (?). Thanks to John and Robyn.

    1. At the risk of incurring the wrath of Tilsit, in 10a we. Are looking for a place where an order of monks are kept. Start with the most important concern. And make it lack it.

      Did our nice cuppa have tacks in?

  6. Strewth. Had that been a Friday Toughie I should not have been surprised. Very satisfying to complete, with few clues falling swiftly – most needing gradual teasing out, if only to decide on the definition, let alone the wordplay.

    Thank you to Robyn and to SJB

  7. Oh boy, what a stinker! But lovely with it! Here I am on Tuesday morning with a few to go – many thanks for your hints SJB, 5 d made me laugh and I loved your illustration for 21a. I shall plod on – George gets tetchy about the papers he is not allowed to throw away as I am still cogitating. Thanks Robyn,
    It is very challenging to a bird brain like
    this Scottish thrush.

  8. Tackled yesterday evening, keeping me up a bit past my usual bedtime! The NW corner was where I ran aground, with 3 1/2 clues keeping me at bay. Finally the penny dropped and the clues fell like dominoes (to mix metaphors a bit). A very enjoyable challenge set by Robyn – many thanks to our setter. My ticks went to 11a, 12a, 19a, 15d, 16d & 18d. It is always interesting to see how commentators select different favourites, it is only 18d from my list that garners widespread approval.
    Thanks also to SJB for his usual sterling work on the review, especially the 7d illustration – it is always pleasing to be reminded of the 2003 RWC and England beating the Wallabies in their own back yard :smile:

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