Toughie 2884 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2884

Toughie No 2884 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

proXimal likes to send our brains out synonym searching, something I’m not very good at. Nonetheless, I found a solid foothold in SW and slowly climbed the grid

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Roughly circle area with suspect around lake (8)
OAFISHLY: The letter that looks like a circle, the abbreviation for area, then a 5-letter word meaning suspect or suspicious goes around the abbreviation for lake

5a    Quickly moved bit (6)
NIPPED: Two meanings

9a    Hysteria from tot with advanced twitches (9)
DRAMATICS: An alcoholic tot, the abbreviation for advanced and some twitches

11a    Blast occurs, exploding shelters (5)
CURSE: Hidden ( … shelters)

12a    I’m eagerly awaiting deodorant (4-2)
ROLL-ON: The answer could substitute for “I’m eagerly awaiting …”

13a    Face action with firm after leader’s relocated (8)
FEATURES: A 4-letter action or accomplished deed, and a 4-letter word meaning firm or certain in which the first letter is moved to the end (after leader relocated)

15a    Pert hosts stern with some gathering for drinks (8,5)
COCKTAIL PARTY: A 5-letter word for pert or arrogant contains (hosts) a word for stern or rear plus a word for ‘some’

18a    Ordinary crustacean up rocky end of pool feeds (13)
UNSPECTACULAR: An anagram (rocky) of CRUSTACEAN UP contains (is fed by) the last letter (end) of pool

22a    Cheating at back, ringleader without pressure (6,2)
TAKING IN: A reversal (back) of ‘at’, then a (4,3) ringleader but without the abbreviation for pressure

23a    Charges acceptable with services (6)
ONUSES: As in burdens. A 2-letter word that can mean acceptable, plus a type of church services (I think)

26a    Picked up ties for canvas mask (5)
GUISE: A homophone (picked up) of some ‘ties for canvas’, as in tent ropes

27a    Harsh article by a Nordic rogue (9)
DRACONIAN: An indefinite article follows (by) an anagram (rogue) of A NORDIC

28a    Understand tunnel is across the Channel (6)
DIGEST: A verb meaning to tunnel plus the French (across the Channel) word for ‘is’

29a    List motor housing first in Audi supply parts (8)
CALENDAR: A 3-letter vehicle containing (housing) the first (letter) in Audi has inserted (parts) a verb meaning supply or loan


1d    Your bad swimming involves constant rigidity (8)
OBDURACY: An anagram (swimming) of YOUR BAD involves the mathematical abbreviation for constant

2d    Morally weak following deceptive person turning up (5)
FRAIL: The abbreviation for following plus the reversal (turning up) of a deceptive person

3d    Split’s one small opening cut in part of trousers (7)
SEAPORT: A 4-letter small opening (in the skin, perhaps) without the last letter (cut) goes inside (in) the part of a pair of trousers that normally holds your rear

4d    Home from bar, twice mistaking one foot for the other (4)
LAIR: Another word for bar in which we twice swap between L(eft) and R(ight). (twice mistaking one foot for the other)

6d    On good terms with one naming agitator (7)
INCITER: A preposition that can mean ‘on good terms with’, and a word for ‘one naming’

7d    Rendering gateway bearing beam (9)
PORTRAYAL: A 6-letter gateway contains (bearing) a 3-letter beam

8d    Elaborate nest swallows case in slyness (6)
DRESSY: A squirrel’s nest contains the outer letters (case) in ‘slyness’

10d    Vessels come to rest with waters rising (8)
STEWPOTS: A reversal (rising) of a verb meaning ‘come to rest’ and a verb meaning ‘waters’

14d    Be free welcoming European in special uniform (8)
LIVERIED: A 4-letter verb meaning ‘be’ and a verb meaning to ‘free’ containing (welcoming) the abbreviation for European

16d    Reaction to Joker‘s line in casting (9)
CHUCKLING: The abbreviation for line goes inside (in) a word meaning casting or throwing

17d    One could be criminal conspirer getting caught out (8)
PRISONER: An anagram (criminal) of (c)ONSPIRER without the cricket abbreviation for caught (getting caught out)

19d    Dreary if not having succeeded at first (7)
SUNLESS: A 6-letter word meaning ‘if not’, but at first we have the abbreviation for succeeded

20d    Tricked private heard excuse (7)
CONDONE: A homophone (heard) of both a 6-letter word meaning tricked and a 3-letter word meaning private or personal

21d    Put on stone and became elderly (6)
STAGED: The abbreviation for stone and a word meaning ‘became elderly’

24d    One trapped in belted saw (5)
SPIED: The Roman numeral for one goes inside (trapped in) a word for belted or raced

25d    Where Adam lived when other half strayed and he got dropped from heaven (4)
PARA: An 8-letter word for ‘where Adam lived’ without the second half (when other half strayed)

I like the biblical story in 25d, I’ve fallen for the lovely device in 3d too many times to admit, and I liked the surface in 28a which nicely disguised the language indicator for some time! Which clues did you like|?

15 comments on “Toughie 2884

  1. Very enjoyable – thaks to the prolific proXimal and Dutch.
    My ticks went to 3d, 17d and 25d (where I spent some time trying to find something to delete Eve from before the penny dropped).

  2. The back-page warm up from ProXimal helped a lot.

    But I just couldn’t see the answer to 25d …. thanks, Dutch, for the explanation.

  3. I spent as long on 25d, playing with Eve and Eden, as on the rest of the puzzle so that must be my COTD.
    Thanks to proXimal and Dutch.

  4. Very enjoyable Toughie, and with 20:20 hindsight of the two that it turns out I’d got wrong, I had thought it surprisingly gentle for a Friday. I lose interest with excessively long clues, especially when the length of the required answer is inversely proportional, so bunged in “Cana” as my LOI without really caring about any parsing. My loss entirely, on what is evidently a very clever clue. Competing the Quickie earlier this morning proved to be rather more helpful (surprisingly so!) than for just lubricating the brain. Good puzzle, great surfaces.

    Many thanks to Proximal and to Dutch.

  5. 23A. Rather than church services, isn’t the second part just the plural of a 3 letter word that replaces service in “glad to be of service”?

  6. Needed Dutch’s hints for four of these – 13,23&29a plus 25d – but pleased that I managed all the rest ‘by my own self’.
    Top three for me were 9&28a plus 7d.

    Thanks to proXimal for his second challenge of the day and to Dutch for his much appreciated help with the pesky ones.

  7. Very enjoyable toughie I try to make a point of going through the parsing so as I can understand the thought process, everything to me was clear, a most enjoyable puzzle.

  8. First ever unaided Friday finish for me. No doubt Elgar will prevent a repeat next week! Favourites were 28, 26 and my first one in, 12. Thanks to proXimal and Dutch.

  9. Wow! A reasonably accessible Friday toughie. I managed well over half before needing to resort to hints to get a restart!

    Thanks to Proximal and Dutch for helping me over the finishing line.

  10. We were finally beaten by 25d after trying for ages to somehow remove HE or EVE from Heaven. Ah well!
    Certainly a challenge for us and an enjoyable one.
    Thanks proXimal and Dutch.

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