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Toughie 2888

Toughie No 2888 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A number of parsings took me into 5* time (as usual!)

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a     I tend not to mind knocking off early at work, not at all (4,7,2)

DON’T MENTION IT: An anagram (at work) of I TEND NOT TO MIN(d) without the last letter (knocking off early)

9a    Fruit carried by single Anglo-French drone? (9)

AUTOMATON: A 6-letter fruit is contained (carried by) within an English plus a French indefinite article meaning single

10a    Committee that has enough power to be effective (5)

TEETH: Hidden ( … has)

11a     Strange in Morse’s case, man enjoying ale when a penny drops (5)

SUPER: A 6-letter word for someone enjoying a drink with one of the central P’s removed (when a penny drops). The definition refers to Morse’s boss in the tv series.

12a/13a    No time now for operation? (4,4)

ZERO HOUR: A word for no or none, and a time period

15a    US singer prepared to open Parliament? (7)

ROBESON: Split (5,2), the answer suggests being suitably attired ready to open Parliament

17a     Wind is immoderate, blowing one over? (7)

SIROCCO: A reversal (wind) of IS, plus an excessively ornamental style of decoration, without one of the O’s (blowing one over)

18a    Use easels and drawing board? (7)

RESTART: Split (4,3), the answer suggests what we do when we use easels

20a    Solver’s approach corrects mistake, swapping vowels (7)

MINDSET: A (5,2) phrase for fixes, or corrects a mistake, then swap vowels.

21a/22a Mass vote against retiring divides e.g. opera and ballet workers (4,4)

ARMY ANTS: The abbreviation for mass plus a reversal (retiring) of a 3-letter ‘vote against’ go inside (divides) a word covering opera and ballet, for example

23a    What gets you down – dis or dat? (5)

EIDER: As in which bird – once you have that, the wordplay should raise a smile

26a    Seeking post

AFTER: Two definitions, the second meaning later

27a    “Time’s reportedly on the side of the fairies”, solvers stressed (9)

OURSELVES: A homophone (reportedly) of a time period (including the ‘S) goes next to (on the side of) some supernatural beings

28a Fair’s Fair – alternative title for this picture? (7,6)

LEGALLY BLONDE: A movie title where both words can mean fair


1d    A mirror’s shattering interrupts dull morning letter opening (4,3,2,5)

DEAR SIR OR MADAM: An anagram (shattering) of A MIRROR’S goes inside (interrupts) a 4-letter word meaning dull, then the abbreviation for morning

2d Call from high court judge deceived from below (3,2)

NOT UP: Think Wimbledon. A reversal (from below) of a (3,2) phrasal verb meaning deceived

3d    Capacity to recall any more MPs under review (6,4)

MEMORY SPAN: An anagram (under review) of ANY MORE MPS

4d    Surfer heading for Newquay gets size tens unpacked (7)

NETIZEN: The first letter (heading) for Newquay, then ‘gets size tens’ without the outer letters (unpacked)

5d    Works bar on Northern Irish peninsula (7)

INNARDS: Another word for a bar plus a Northern Irish peninsula

6d     A, perhaps, with or without IOU (4)

NOTE: Split (3,1), the answer refers to the missing vowel with IOU. But even without, it still holds true musically.

7d    Male pro attending party boosted our defenders (3,6)

THE FORCES: A male pronoun plus a word meaning ‘pro’ go inside (attending) the reversal (boosted) of a party or cult

8d    Sweet orchestral suite played without one? (9,5)

CHARLOTTE RUSSE: An anagram (played) of ORCHESTRAL SU(i)TE (without ‘one’)

14d    Provider of zest in cocktail or water in spirit (6,4)

ORANGE PEEL: OR from the clue, then a word meaning ‘water’ or ‘go’ gets inserted into (in) a winged spirit

16d    Maybe iron, copper and others supporting beams in disrepair (4,5)

BASE METAL: The Latin abbreviation for ‘and others’ is underneath (supporting) an anagram (in disrepair) of BEAMS

19d    Settled up having collected SP: it’ll cover the fare (7)

TINFOIL: The reversal (up) of a 3-letter verb meaning settled or came down contains (having collected) a shortened word meaning ‘state of play’, or news

20d Mum is ahead of time, but not as close (7)

MISERLY: Take a (2,2,5) phrase meaning ‘Mum is ahead of time’, and remove the As (but not as)

25d    Considerable resistance on board ship (4)

BRIG: An adjective meaning considerable or large contains (on board) the abbreviation for resistance

My favourite this week is the quirky dis or dat in 23a. Which clues did you like?

23 comments on “Toughie 2888

  1. Each of this week’s three Toughie crosswords has been an extremely enjoyable solve. Like Dutch, I did like 23a, but I also marked quite a few other clues including 11a, 15a, 18a and especially 6d – Elgar always finds a different way to clue this word, but none, in my opinion, beats 20a in my favourite ever crossword Toughie 770

    Thanks very much indeed to Elgar and to Dutch

  2. Very enjoyable indeed – thanks to Elgar and Dutch.
    I looked for a Nina but since Dutch hasn’t found one I don’t suppose there is one.
    I have multiple ticks including 23a, 28a, 2d (high court judge – brilliant!), and 14d.

  3. I have astonished myself by completing this unaided while watching the golf, and in reasonable time! I thought 8d an excellent anagram, but my COTD is 23a, with 20d, and 14d close runners up. Thanks to Elgar, and to Dutch, whose hints I shall now read

  4. Great puzzle. Hints required to parse a couple and had to check the singer of whom I’d never heard. 25d was my favourite.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  5. This took a lot of getting into and I feared Elgar had reverted to type. But once 1a and 1d were in the rest proceeded quite smoothly – in fact in less time than yesterday’s Artix [which took 3 sessions]. Of course, parsing them all took almost as long again and I failed on 19d, not being familiar with “state of play” [and neither is Chambers]. Favourites were 18a [back to the …..] and 20d [as indeed].
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

    1. I think that SP is short for Starting Price and ‘the full SP’ (from horseracing) is slang for ‘the latest information’.

  6. It has been a really enjoyable week of Toughie puzzles culminating with Elgar’s offering. 5d was obvious but I needed to check the peninsular which I have never encountered previously.

  7. Another superb Elgar, many thanks & to Dutch. Dis and dat very nice indeed, but excellent throughout. (No theme or Nina?)

  8. That was a lot of fun and finished in one sitting. I do find it hard to justify ‘drawing board’ without ‘going back to the ….’, but it is Elgar, so I must be wrong.

  9. I can’t see 24 down. The letter representing very covered by a anagram of done giving a place where the jam is put on top of the cream, the opposite of the method in Newquay used earlier.

    1. The (correct) method used in 24d (where I live) is to put the jam on top of the cream. The method in Newquay (which is in a different county) is the opposite way round.
      I always ask those in Cornwall who put the dairy product on top of their preserve whether they put their butter on top of their marmalade on their toast.

      1. Ach, you midlanders in Devon don’t even make proper pasties, so how can we expect you to put the cream on a split or a scone in the right order? Gah, there’s no hope for you lot, none at all!

        And the proper order is butter, jam, cream of course! Like toast, the marmalade goes on top of the butter. Unless you’re having your marmalade with cheddar cheese and crackers, that is.

    2. You’re right. 24d missing. And you’ve parsed it right, shock horror that the jam goes on top! Heathens!

  10. Great Toughie. Somehow got it all correct but needed Dutch’s invaluable help to understand 9 of them! A much improved end to the week after yesterday.

    Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch

  11. All done and almost all parsed. I had the LHS complete with very little on the RHS apart from 8d. Worked slowly upwards using the crossers I had in place. Laughed out loud at 23a.

  12. Great puzzle which I almost completed after staring at for a while and contemplating abandonment. Got a little stuck at first as convinced myself 12a was CHOP CHOP but realised thinking too hard! Agree 23a was pick of the bunch. Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  13. Absolutely delighted to finish a 5-* difficulty Friday Toughie, albeit over Saturday breakfast.

    Favourites were 23a and (although I thought this was the Cornish way!) 24d. Apparently many Devonians also believe that they invented the pastie.

    Thanks to Dutch for the blog and Elgar for the excellent puzzle.

  14. Not an unaided finish but a finish nonetheless, thanks for the explanations Gazza. I tried “Orb Is On” for being prepared to open parliament, ho hum. As for the great “jam or cream first” debate, might I suggest stirring them together with your teaspoon and spreading the resultant goo on your scone? Awaits polite abuse…
    Thanks as ever to Elgar for a cracker.

  15. I thought 24 was UDDER for a while! Several groans from me: 15ac, 18ac, 5d, 18d but enjoyed 24 most. What a weird brain you have, John, must be living in Godzone that does it!

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