Toughie 2879 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2879

Toughie No 2879 by Beam

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

It’s Beam’s turn for the Thursday Toughie this week and he’s given us a fairly gentle one. Thanks to him.

In terms of difficulty this week’s Toughies seem to have been scheduled in reverse order though I’m pretty sure that Elgar will buck the trend tomorrow.

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

Across Clues

1a Bores backing flag comprehending talks (7)
GASBAGS: a verb to flag or wilt contains an informal verb meaning talks at length. Now reverse it all.

5a Choose chips, reportedly, for outdoor meals (7)
PICNICS: bring together homophones of a) a verb to choose and b) chips (in your car’s paintwork perhaps).

9a Bloodless returning spooks keeping nasty (7)
ANAEMIC: the USA spy agency contains an adjective meaning nasty or base. Reverse what you have.

10a One under canvas by second romp (7)
SCAMPER: the abbreviation for second and someone living under canvas.

11a Plant, say, with method trapping insect (9)
EGLANTINE: start with the abbreviation for ‘say’ and add a synonym of method or policy containing an insect.

12a Virile male before a detailed cut (5)
MACHO: string together the abbreviation for male, A and a verb to cut without its last letter.

13a Desire follows small rise (5)
SURGE: a desire or longing follows the clothing abbreviation for small.

15a Snack otherwise includes cool seconds (9)
ELEVENSES: an adverb meaning otherwise contains an adjective meaning cool or placid then we finish with the abbreviation for seconds.

17a Reckless forward taking on defender, finally (9)
IMPRUDENT: an adjective meaning forward or cheeky contains the final letter of defender.

19a Haggard character facing Queen is simple (5)
SHEER: if you come across the word Haggard capitalised in a clue there’s a good chance it refers to Sir Henry Rider Haggard, the English novelist. We need the heroine (and title) of his best known work followed by our Queen’s regnal cipher.

22a Gather, we hear, to see band (5)
HORDE: this sounds like a verb to gather or squirrel away.

23a Legion lacking imperial official? (9)
COUNTLESS: cryptically this could mean lacking a high-ranking official in the late Roman Empire.

25a Spongers in pubs consuming pickled snack? (7)
BEGGARS: a synonym of pubs containing what you might buy there as a pickled snack.

26a Double over after endlessly happy praise (7)
APPLAUD: reverse an adjective meaning double after the word ‘happy’ shorn of both end letters.

27a Plays with dog, head to tail (7)
TINKERS: start with an informal word for a dog or disreputable person and move its first letter to the end.

28a Moved left welcoming China’s leader (7)
EXCITED: a verb meaning left (the stage perhaps) contains the leading letter of China.

Down Clues

1d Best ever look? Revolting beards! (7)
GOATEES: the acronym for the greatest of all time (usually referring to a sportsman such as Muhammad Ali) and the reversal of a verb to look.

2d Page secured by older office appliance (7)
STAPLER: insert the abbreviation for page into a comparative meaning older or more dried out.

3d Capital chap supporting upset mother (5)
AMMAN: a chap follows the reversal of an affectionate word for mother.

4d Learned about cold anger and outrage (9)
SACRILEGE: an adjective meaning learned or wise contains the abbreviation for cold and a verb to anger.

5d Place impeccable skiers teach essentials for starters (5)
PISTE: a semi-all-in-one clue involving initial letters.

6d Unappealing Conservative, innocent perhaps (9)
CHARMLESS: an abbreviation for Conservative and an adjective meaning innocent or inoffensive.

7d Puck takes measures leading to consequences (7)
IMPACTS: weld together a puck or mischievous sprite and a word meaning measures or deeds.

8d One buried inside watery grave (7)
SERIOUS: insert the Roman numeral for one into an adjective meaning watery or like serum.

14d List some asset, a remuneration raised (9)
ENUMERATE: hidden in reverse.

16d Transient, our agenda involves train (9)
ENTOURAGE: hidden forwards.

17d People dressed like a monk (7)
INHABIT: split the answer 2,5 for the wordplay. People here is a verb.

18d Zero space round artist turning model (7)
PARAGON: a phrase (2,3) indicating zero space contains our usual noted artist. Reverse it all.

20d European inclined to purchase grand chic (7)
ELEGANT: an abbreviation for European and a verb meaning inclined containing the abbreviation for a grand ($1,000 dollars).

21d Stayed with socialist, taking direction (7)
RESIDED: the colour associated with a socialist contains a word meaning direction (it is in the BRB – I checked).

23d Affairs about gutted suitors embracing sweetheart (5)
CASES: a 2-letter abbreviation meaning about or approximately followed by the outer letters of suitors containing Beam’s usual swEetheart.

24d Subject of work kept in check, mostly (5)
TOPIC: our usual abbreviated artistic work goes inside a verb to check without its last letter. This meaning of check is North American according to the BRB.

For my podium I’ve selected 19a, 1d and 5d. Which clue(s) got you 28a?

17 comments on “Toughie 2879

  1. What a joy this was from start to finish, in stark contrast to today’s back-pager.

    My top three were 19a, 1d & 8d.

    Many thanks to Beam and to Gazza.

  2. Great fun whilst it lasted. I did need to check the Haggard reference. Thanks to Gazza and Beam.

    1. Outside of crossword land I would say his imperial excavation saga was more famous.

  3. Absolutely wonderful, best puzzle of the week so far whether on backpage or inside. Worked from S to N with steady progress finishing in the NW. Wanted the haggard character facing the Queen to be Brian May but it just wouldn’t fit … It would be invidious to select any single clue for special mention, so high was the overall standard.

    2.5* / 4.5*

    Many thanks indeed to Beam/Mr T and to Gazza.

  4. I concur fully with earlier commenters about the high quality of this puzzle; Mr T at his concise best with a gridful of excellent clues. 19a was terrific, as were 1 and 8d. Wonderful entertainment all round.

    Thanks to Beam and Gazza.

  5. As usual I found this harder than most. I needed the hint to parse 1d, I have heard the term it just didn’t occur to me. Great fun though. I spent far too long trying to fit a printer’s space into 18d but once the penny dropped it made me laugh so COTD for me. Thanks to Beam and Gazza.

  6. Very enjoyable indeed. Enough accessible clues to get a decent foothold but I still found it tougher than our reviewer especially the SW corner.
    As ever with this setter, lots to like but I’ve chosen to highlight 9&15a plus 1&18d but top place goes to the gloriously un-PC 25a which made me laugh out loud.
    Many thanks to Beam and Gazza, especially for explaining my 19a bung in.

  7. Been out for lunch with a couple of friends and I don’t think the large glass of wine did anything for my parsing skills – that’s my excuse anyway!
    Pretty much crawled across the finish line but I did have fun along the way. Opting for rather different favourites – it was 11&25a that raised the laughs here.

    Devotions as ever to Mr T/Beam and many thanks to Gazza for confirming one or two guesses such as the acronym in 1d.

  8. A game of 2 halves for me. The right hand side flowed and the left hand definitely stuck.
    I agree 1d are revolting. Horrible face fungus. Is calling Ali a GOAT perhaps libellous? More Hervey Weinstein I’d say!
    I’m not sure about 29d I’d say “ chic” was “elegance” not “elegant” but perhaps I’m being pedantic?
    Thanks to Mr K for solving my sign in problem.

  9. Evening all. Thanks to Gazza for the review and to all for your observations.


    1. Good evening, Mr T. Needless to say, I found this more difficult than Gazza did, but it was well worth the effort. The pickled snack really made me laugh!

  10. Puzzle of the week for me. No anagrams either! 19a, 1d, 4d, & 23a head the list of show-stoppers, but not a dud in the grid. Just brilliant. Thanks to Gazza and Beam.

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