Toughie 2889 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2889

Daily Telegraph Toughie No 2889

Hints and tips by Miffypops

Chris M Rating – Difficulty **-*** – Enjoyment ****

Toughie Setters This Week

Tuesday Robyn.  Wednesday Logman. Thursday Shamus. Friday Osmosis.

Good Afternoon from the Mohave Desert of The Midlands where the sun is threatening to boil the blood in our bodies. A direct result of the worlds production of graphite for pencils and ink for pens.

Those who buy the dead tree version of The Daily Telegraph are to blame. I advised you not to write your last answers in but you wouldn’t listen so now you have to bear the consequences of your folly.

As usual Robyn’s ‘True Toughie on a Tuesday’  butters the parsnips, floats the boats and hits the sweet spots. If you are ready to rock n roll then so am I. Heigh Ho! Let’s go


1ac.   Divisive 25 per cent cut in staff coming up (10)

POLARISING:  Begin with three quarters of a four-letter staff that might hold a flag up. Add a word meaning emerging or becoming apparent.

6ac.  Superior sticks given a twirl (4)

SMUG:  A word meaning sticks or fastens with a type of glue is reversed or given a twirl

9ac.   Provider of fruit lacking taste for tart (10)

 VINEGARISH:  The provider of fruit such as grapes or hops is followed by a word meaning lacking in taste or obtrusively bright and showy like the sign for the Co-op in the very pretty village of Long Itchington in Warwickshire. Even worse when illuminated

 10ac.  Note doctor put next to case of medicine (4)

MEMO:  The abbreviation for a Medical Orderly follows the outer letters of the word medicine

 12ac.   Place to park behind Sierra and take in fuel (4)

SEAT:   Begin with the letter suggested by Sierra in phonetic alphabets. Add what we humans do to take in fuel. This made me laugh out loud

 13ac.   Broadcast on pitch, not without intro from Clare Balding (4,2,3)

THIN ON TOP:  An anagram (broadcast) of ON PITCH NOT minus the first letter of the word Clare. A nice use of Clare Balding, similar to burial ground in yesterday’s back pager

15ac.  Army supplies ally that is infiltrating sides (8)

MATERIEL:  Begin with an ally, friend or chum. Add the usual abbreviation for that is surrounded by the abbreviations for right and left

16ac.   Singer drunkenly speaking made-up lingo (6)

ELVISH:  Your answer is how one might drunkenly slur the name of either an over rated singer from the middle of the last century or a brilliant singer, guitarist and lyricist who’s first album My Aim Is True was released in the year that the first geezer died

18ac. Black out, perhaps, on the left turn (6)

REDACT:   The colour of the political left is followed by a theatrical turn

20ac.  Chap without singular fuss getting antiquated browser (8)

MASTODON:  A three part charade. 1. A chap or fellow. 2. The abbreviation for singular 3. A fuss split 2,2. Arrange as suggested by the clue

23ac.  Secretaries talk about covering for delegate in spring (3,2,4)

PAS DE CHAT:   The abbreviation for personal assistants and an informal conversation surround the outer letters of the word delegate

24ac.  Player of music in international school (4)

 IPOD:  The abbreviation for international is followed by a school of fish perhaps. What good taste Steve Jobs had

26ac.  Fail in Cambridge University after lowest possible score? (4)

OMIT:  This Cambridge University is in Cambridge Massachusetts. Known as The Massachusetts Institute of Technology it’s nickname (gleaned from its initials) follows the lowest score possible, Les than one even

27ac.  A grant: small bit of cash for a developer still (10)

ADOLESCENT:  Begin with the letter A from the clue. Add a grant paid to the unemployed. Add the abbreviation for small. Add a bit of cash. One hundredth of a dollar

28ac.  So Oscar goes after some work (4)

ERGO:  The letter suggested by Oscar in the phonetic alphabet follows a unit of work or energy, equal to the work done by a force of one dyne when its point of application moves one centimetre in the direction of action of the force

29ac.   Fool judge, swallowing first lawbreaker’s claim (10)

ASSEVERATE:  A regular fool and a verb meaning to judge or assign a standard or value to are separated by the first offender in the Bible. A poor misunderstood woman who just wanted a good time with her man. Don’t they all?


1d.    Put flags on pavilion’s front with welcoming word (4)

PAVE:  The initial letter of the word pavilion is followed by a word used to express good wishes on meeting or parting

2d.  Clement. nearly six-week period keeping Spain cool to the north (7)

LENIENT:   A tricky thing to parse. We have a forty day (nearly the 42 days of six weeks) period which precedes Easter. The IVR vehicle code for Spain.  A word meaning cool or trendy. There is a reversal of part of the answer as indicated by the words to the north. One part of the answer sits around the rest of the answer. Phew. In this heat as well.

3d.  Newspaper accounts about Switzerland showing social mobility (4-2-6)

RAGS TO RICHES:  A three letter derogatory term for a newspaper is followed by some accounts or tales into which the IVR code for Switzerland has been inserted

4d.  Sellers turned up, ringing hotel for a drink (8)

SPRITZER: This hotel has been very busy of late in DT cryptics. The hotel that lies at No 150 Piccadilly sits inside the reverse of an abbreviation for sales representatives

5d.  Dubious sight is seen dubiously (6)

NESSIE:   Anagram (Dubiously) of IS SEEN

7d.  They may conduct endless tour behind same ground (7)

MAESTRI: A tour or journey made for pleasure loses its last letter and follows an anagram (ground) of SAME

8d.  Trait of sheep up north, I suspect, in Greenock’s borders (10)

 GROUPTHINK:  An anagram (suspect) of UP NORTH I sits comfortably inside the outer letters of the word Greenock

11d.   Poet flipping put out, eating dry rolls for convenience (6,6)

TOILET TISSUE:  The poet wrote The Wasteland. He is flipped or reversed. Dry stands for TeeTotal. To put out is to put out as one would a magazine

 14d.  Apple could produce this stinging sensation, having high acidity (10)

 SMARTPHONE:  A sharp stinging pain is followed by the initials used to test acidity or alkalinity and the number attributed to its highest level

 17d.    Sweet poorly coated in Player of music in fake rock (8)

PASTILLE: A three letter word meaning poorly is surrounded by a hard vitreous composition used in making imitation gems

19d.  Making a career – getting home with €1,000 (7)

 DASHING:  The name of the punctuation thingy after the word career is followed by a word meaning at home and the abbreviation for £1,000 which as know is a grand. Thanks to Cryptic Sue

 21d.  A nude cavorting around taking too many drugs shows some guts (7)

DUODENA:  The abbreviation for overdose (taking too many drugs) sits inside an anagram (cavorting) of A NUDE

22d.  Cash regularly securing e.g., leopard-skin carpets

 CHIDES:  The alternate letters of the word cash sit around the skin of any animal

25d.  Complaint of The Observer or Vogue, cutting line (4)

STYE:  A word meaning vogue has the abbreviation for line cut out of it

We appear to have an orchardload of apples today . Can you work out the apple references in this cartoon?

25 comments on “Toughie 2889

  1. Even though I’m always mystified as to why Robyn appears on a Tuesday – his difficulty level would suggest to me he’d be better later in the week – he always provides the most enjoyable properly tough Toughie

    My particular favourites were 13a and 5d. 15a always reminds me of the time I got one letter wrong in a heat of the Times Crossword Championships, so I’ve never forgotten the word since. Miffypops should note that the definition of 19d is the first three words of the clue, the solution made up from the punctuation followed by the usual ‘home’ and the abbreviation for the term we use for £1,000

    Thanks to Robyn for the great crossword – it would be lovely to see you on a Wednesday ;) – and to MP for the blog

    1. Having been blessed with a hyphen for hundreds of years my family refuses to acknowledge the existence of a dash, even with the correct spacing each side

      1. Less of your attacks on readers of the print version would be much appreciated. You should keep your opinions to yourself and stick to the crossword.

        1. You’ve changed your alias so this required moderation. Both aliases will work from now on.

  2. Great early week Toughie.
    Wasn’t familiar with 15ac or 23ac but both elegantly clued.
    Also needed help to parse 2d and 20ac. Thanks MP (love the cartoons)
    Most enjoyable thanks Robyn.

  3. Can’t praise this one highly enough, huge smiles throughout the grid.
    23 and 29a were new for me but pieced together from the wordplay and checkers. Needed Wiki to confirm the work in 28a too.
    Difficult to choose winners (they all were!) but 13a plus 3,5,14d produced the biggest grins. I’ve given top spot to 25d though as it’s such a clever clue and I’m suffering from one at the moment! Great stuff.
    Thanks to Robyn and MP for the top notch entertainment.

    1. All the way through I was thinking that I would receive an email from you saying how much you enjoyed this puzzle.

  4. I found it a very tough Toughie.
    I liked 14d and 13a.
    I also misspelled 15a until 4d was worked out.
    29a is an entirely new word for me.
    Thanks to Robyn and Miffypops.

  5. Super puzzle with a couple of learning points.

    13a and 18d get my votes.

    Thanks to Robyn and MP.

  6. Crikey that was hard. 23a and 29a also new words to me but fairly clued. Favourite was 3d. Thanks to Robyn and MP.

  7. Great fun. Loved the antiquated browser [20a] and the trait of sheep [8d].
    Thanks to Robyn and MP, I suspect you’re just a tad too young to remember how life-changing Elvish was [for a few years] in a world accustomed to a choice between the Trout Quintet and Bibbidy bobbidy boo.

    1. I understand fully what Elvis brought to the table but he didn’t write songs, didn’t write the music, didn’t play much of an instrument. Just a voice, a pretty face and a whole bunch of charisma. What more does one need?

  8. Had it not been for the fact that there’s nowt else to do in this infernal heat I reckon I’d probably have thrown in the towel with this one. A proper Toughie & made more difficult by being a bit rusty tackling them of late. Delighted therefore to complete over 3 stabs & without a letter reveal. 15&29a new to me & arrived at via the wordplay, the ballet technique sort of rang a bell but needed checking & a number of others were reverse engineered. Annoyingly 19d was a definition bung in as I couldn’t see where the dash (always come unstuck with this type of wordplay) came from but otherwise fully parsed. Like Halcyon particularly liked 8d&20a but Elvish just pips Clare Balding in the chuckle stakes.
    Thanks to Robyn & Miff.

  9. Gosh & strewth. But afterwards I was left wondering “now why was that so hard??”. And now I know, it’s a Robyn. Better suited to later in the week or a Sunday, mehtinks.

    Anyway, cracking puzzle from first to last, and with many of the clues I may have spent as long working out which element was the wordplay as I then did solving the clue itself. Was thinking of Netscape and other early browsers until suddently 20a struck me amidships – no idea why it sprang to mind, but it did, so I parsed it and in it went. Bingo. Similar flash of inspiration with 19d. Anything bearing a price tag from Apple produces a “you’ve been stung” sensation IMV, so what a great clue.

    Hon Mentions to 13a, 5d, 14d and 21d, with COTD to 19d.

    Many thanks indeed to Robyn and to M-P

      1. In which case can’t you print them off on a Sunday and then wait for 48 hours? ;)

        1. No. Because we do not see these puzzles until the morning they are published. Same as all of the other puzzles for all of the other bloggers

  10. After 3 run throughs without anything making sense, I gave up and read the blog. Well! Are we sure today isn’t Friday and this isn’t Elgar under another name? I’m completely and utterly bamboozled.
    Perhaps it’s my punishment for demolishing trees!

  11. A stunningly great Toughie. Surprised that I actually finished it, though I did need some letter reveals along the way. (I sometimes wish that they weren’t available as I give in too soon so that I can get back to whatever book I’m deeply engrossed in. I know, I know: specious reasoning, likely story.) There was nothing I didn’t already know (I say immodestly), it was just my impatience that won out. 23a and 20a are locked in an unbreakable tie for top honours but the whole puzzle is just sublime, as is typical for this charismatic compiler. Come to think of it, so is our blogger today. So thanks to the two charmers, Robyn and Miffypops.

  12. A very satisfactory level of head-scratching required for this enjoyable puzzle. 19d gets top spot for us.
    Thanks Robyn and MP.

  13. Thanks to Robyn and to Miffypops for the review and hints. A very well constructed puzzle, but way too difficult for me. I had a real try at this, but only managed to get 8 answers before turning to the hints. I got another 8 with the checkers after I’d looked most of it up. I can’t seem to get on Robyn’s wavelength. Had never heard of 23&29a. All very difficult.

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