Toughie 2878 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2878

Toughie No 2878 by Django

Hints and tips by Crypticsue

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

An enjoyable Toughie from Django – I found the RH side a lot friendlier than the left

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Ace fish fingers are part of this (3,4)
DAB HAND A type of fish and the place on your body where fingers are found

5a    Bitter writer follows cycling race (7)
ACERBIC A brand of ballpoint pen (writer) follows RACE from the clue after you have ‘cycled’ the first letter to the end of the word

9a    I panic after fear grips heart of city — boy finally volunteers (11,4)
TERRITORIAL ARMY I (from the clue) and a synonym of panic go after some fear into which is inserted (grips) the letters at the ‘heart’ of cITY, the result finished with the final letter of boY

10a    Fail to perform Hindu chant with charm (4)
OMIT A sacred syllable chanted by Hindus with a two-letter word meaning personal magnetism (charm)

11a    One honoured to stop car not caught by traffic light (5)
AMBER A Member of the British Empire (one honoured) goes inside (to stop) cAR, not caught telling you to leave out the C (cricket abbreviation for caught)

12a    Switching over to end of noisy game (4)
LUDO Take a synonym for noisy and switch the O (over) to the end of the word

15a    Intimate table (7)
SUGGEST To call up in the mind (intimate) or to put forward, eg a plan (table)

16a    Female police officers — 9 very strong (7)
DISTAFF Some abbreviated detective inspectors (police officers), the abbreviation for 9a and the musical abbreviation for very strong (fortissimo)

17a    Trembling state, hosting non-stop quiz shows (7)
AQUIVER A verb meaning to state ‘hosting’ the first three letters (non-stop) of QUIz

19a    What Oxbridge tenet is to get Brexit done (7)
ANAGRAM What you use if you rearrange OXBRIDGE TENET to GET BREXIT DONE

21a    Security feature like in Houses of Parliament (4)
HASP An adverb meaning like, in the manner of, inserted into the abbreviation for Houses of Parliament

22a    Essentially Amazon Prime’s first gem (5)
TOPAZ An adjective meaning first in order (prime) goes before the ‘essential’ letters of amAZon

23a    Terms of Detroit mafia deal with Colombian — principally to supply powder (4)
TALC The terms or ends of DetroiT mafiA deaL with the principal letter of Colombian

26d    Awful, unending pong if hotel guest makes mistake (4,2,3,6)
SLIP OF THE TONGUE An anagram (awful) of PONg (unending telling you to leave off the last letter) IF HOTEL GUEST

27a    Number 10 taken in by hoax claim (7)
CONTEND The abbreviation for Number and 10 written out as a word inserted into (taken in by) a slang word for a hoax

28a    Full theatre allowed echo (7)
REPLETE An informal name for a type of theatre, a simple way of saying allowed and the letter represented by Echo in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet


1d    Online concerns about court overturning sentences (7)
DOTCOMS Part of a verb meaning sentences or pronounces judgment on into which is inserted (about) a reversal (overturning) of the abbreviation for court

2d    Indelibly imprint magazine with it — no use after editing issue that’s avidly discussed (7,8)
BURNING QUESTION To indelibly imprint (4,2), a men’s fashion and style magazine, and an anagram (after editing) of IT NO USE

3d    Son supporting a team’s combined powers (4)
AXIS The abbreviation for Son ‘supporting’ (in a Down solution) A (from the clue) and the Roman numerals associated with the number of people in a football or cricket team

4d    Looked down on one‘s hair style … or weave (7)
DOORMAT An informal word for a hair style, OR (from the clue) and a verb meaning to weave

5d    Also, I discern piercing flavour (7)
ANISEED I (from the clue) and a verb meaning to discern inserted into (piercing) a conjunction meaning also

6d    Slippery characters feel seat belts (4)
EELS Hidden inside (belted by) fEEL Seat

7d    Granted burial at sea with me somewhere in the North Atlantic (7,8)

8d    Raise fake concerns about rising stream holding up railway (3,4)
CRY WOLF The Latin abbreviation for about and a reversal (rising) of a verb meaning to stream, between which is inserted (holding up) the abbreviation for railway

13d    TV set review’s oddly missing animation (5)
VERVE The even (oddly missing) letters of tV sEt ReViEw

14d    Exceptionally large estate maybe getting award (5)
OSCAR The abbreviation for outsize (exceptionally large) and a vehicle of which an estate may be an example

17d    Sample from rap has Ice-T’s vocal? Far from it (7)
APHASIC An inability to express thoughts as words – found in a sample of rAP HAS ICe

18d    One that jumps on horse without a saddle ultimately settled (7)
ROOSTED An informal name for an Australian animal which jumps followed by (on in a Down solution) a horse without one of the E’s (without a saddlE ultimately)

19d    A team failing — you are caught being unprofessional (7)
AMATEUR An anagram (failing) of A TEAM followed by a homophone (caught) of you are

20d    Communist China secures weapon (7)
MACHETE We don’t see a lot of this particular Cuban communist in crosswords these days but here he is inserted into a friend (China being Cockney rhyming slang)

24d    It’s hard to tell if one’s practical (4)
JOKE If one is practical and sensible, it could be hard to tell an amusing quip or story

25d    Solicitor with love for current ceremony (4)
POMP Take a solicitor who makes his living from immoral earnings rather than upholding the law and replace the symbol for electrical current with the letter representing love


36 comments on “Toughie 2878
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  1. I absolutely loved this, mercifully easier than yesterday but a whole host of fun.
    It’s hard to look beyond 1a, a real smiler, as favourite but I also particularly liked 22a and 1d. Great stuff setter.
    Thanks Django and CS for the entertainment.
    Ps…As Serpent is one of our reviewer’s favourite setters, if this week’s combination should arise again, perhaps we could swap blogs 😉

      1. Agreed, I think it’s basically a link word but put at the end, a la Yoda, “Definition, this wordplay shows”

  2. Django’s puzzles are usually great fun but whilst there’s nothing at all wrong with it this one fell a bit flat after yesterday’s monster. Interestingly it uses the same grid and 14d shares an element with yesterday’s 23a. Any other similarities?
    I struggled to parse “obia” for 10a – now I know why! Not sure what “shows” is doing in 17a. Favourites were 1a and 4d.
    Thanks to Django and CS.

  3. This was not too difficult and good fun with 22a my favourite.

    Aren’t the two definitions in 15a a bit similar?

    Many thanks to Django and to CS.

  4. I concur with halcyon’s first sentence above – this puzzle is fine but suffers in comparison to yesterday’s Toughie. Thanks to Django and CS.
    I’m another who can’t see what ‘shows’ contributes to 17a and I don’t really understand 24d (I presume it’s saying that the victim of a practical **** can’t tell if it’s real or not).
    My favourite clue was 1a.

    1. I think 24d is because when the solution is practical it involves a physical action rather than words…..hence difficult to tell?

      1. I suppose that’s it – thanks. I’m sure that some practical jokes can involve words – when I was about 8 I was sent to the shop to buy left-handed toilet paper because we had a left-handed relative coming to stay (that was in early April!).

        1. Prepping up the chicken kidneys is favourite for butchers’ apprentices [in the days when they had apprentices].

          1. Happy to note that our superb local – and incredibly successful – independent butcher recruits a double-figure number of apprentices every year. There are still some who can survive despite the supermarkets!

        2. Whilst studying for my A-Levels, I worked in the summer hols with the engineers at a paper mill during their annual shut-down (1970). I distinctly remember three practical jokes they played on me, all involving being sent to the stores for various things:
          1. A pair of “sky hooks”.
          2. A big adjustable spanner – and make sure it’s metric, not imperial.
          3, The long stand (which they said was needed to prop the end of a heavy roller up). I stood waiting for that one for ages before I twigged!

    2. 24d was my last one in but easy to get at that stage as a “bung-in” as I was missing only a J & a K for the pangram and they were the two letters I needed for that answer. I agree with your interpretation of the wordplay.

      1. Stephen has my intended parsing here. Most jokes are things you tell. But a practical joke isn’t. (And even if they involve words, that’s not really the telling of the joke.)

  5. Thanks Django & CS. This was great fun despite seeming gentler than expected for a Django (perhaps I was just lucky to be on wavelength). Another vote for 1a as favourite, I also liked the precision of 18d’s deletion.

  6. Another properly tough Toughie, and suited for mid/late week. A feeling more of grim satisfaction on completion rather than of enjoyment, and there were a half-dozen clues where I thought “I know that’s the answer, but life’s too short to work out the parsing” (or WTTE).

    COTD 19a, with runner-up 19a.

    Many thanks to Django and to CS.

  7. 7d needs ‘me’ in the anagram Sue.

    Really enjoyed this pleasingly difficult Toughie that had several fine clues spread throughout the grid; my favourite was the clever 19a.

    My thanks to Django and CS.

    1. The ME is written on my ‘working out’ piece of paper but didn’t make it to the hint, which I’ve now corrected

  8. Django puzzles always amuse me greatly. I can’t be asked to nitpick each clue to death preferring to solve and move on. A sparkly puzzle today. Not quite as tough as yesterday’s Serpent but certainly tough enough for a toughie slot. We’ve had terms two days running to suggest final letters of words. I don’t remember seeing that before. Thought 12 across was a good clue. Thanks to DJango as usual, keep em coming and thanks to cryptic Sue for the review

  9. I got the answer to 13d, but I don’t understand it. The even letters of TV set, but the odd letters of review.

  10. My first unaided completed Toughie in a few days, and I really enjoyed the solve. Serpent wore me out yesterday, but this one revivified me, and I needed that tonic and uplift. Many favourites but 1d, 1a, 22a (my birthstone), & 19a rise a bit above the others. 13d was my LOI, and when the penny dropped, I felt a sweet frisson run through me! The use of ‘terms’, as MP points out, is a new device for me also, and I rather like it. Thanks to CS for her review and to Django for the pleasure.

      1. Well, blow me down. Darn if you didn’t! I have no recollection of solving ‘annoyed’ at all, but I see that CS explains ‘terms’ as ‘ends’ in her review. Thanks for being so fastidious, Django.

  11. Pleased to complete this, although I struggled (surprisingly?) with 11a.

    I liked 19a although some may have found this a bit predictable.

    Agree re 17a, but no complaints.

    I noted too the comments re yesterday’s Toughie so no regrets about giving it up!

    Thanks to CS for the blog and Django.

  12. Looking for the last couple of letters to complete the pangram helped with the last couple of answers.
    Plenty of chuckles throughout the solve.
    Thanks Django and CS.

  13. Very enjoyable. Late on parade due to some cherry picking at the local farm, some of which have already made it into a batch of cherry gin. Struggled a bit with 24d. Thanks to Django and CS.

  14. I for one was very happy to find that today’s puzzle was lighter than yesterday’s Serpent, which was waaay beyond my solving ability. I always enjoy a Django Toughie and today was no exception. Lots to enjoy and lots to smile about. Thanks Dave G, I loved it :-)

  15. Thanks to Django and to Crypticsue for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but I just ran out of steam near the end, needed the hints for 10,11,15a to finish. Favourite was 1a, most amusing. Was 3* /4* for me.

  16. I’ll take a gentle Django over a Serpent brain frazzler any day of the week thanks. Not in the least bit flat for me even if it was possibly a wee bit easier than Jay’s back-pager. I thought the 4 long uns all good but agree that 1a&d are the picks & also particularly liked 12a&20d. Didn’t overly care for 15a or 24d but best puzzle of the week thus far in my view.
    Thanks to DG & CS.

  17. Thanks for the blog, CrypticSue – and thanks for all the interested comments.

    I don’t think ‘shows’ is truly superfluous in 17a. The clue would make sense without it, but that’s not quite the same thing. I don’t think ‘hosting non-stop quiz’ makes as much sense in the surface meaning as ‘hosting non-stop quiz shows’ does and it parses. The fact that the words ‘Quiz’ and ‘Shows’ sit so comfortably together, making it hard for the brain not to see ‘shows’ as a noun adds a – to my mind, enjoyable – layer of deception.

    ‘The secret he shows’ makes as much sense as ‘He shows the secret’

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