Toughie 2893 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2893

Toughie No 2893 by Dada

Hints and tips by StephenL

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

Hello everyone from a bright and pleasantly warm South Devon.

Dada kicks off the Toughie week with a fun and witty puzzle that was definitely a case of quality over quantity. I enjoyed it a lot.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


6a        Arrange lecture about conclusion of murder case (11)

ORCHESTRATE:  A synonym of lecture or speak goes around the final letter of murder and a type of box or case.

9a        US ready to admit presidential laughter initially hollow (6)
DIMPLE:  The ready here is money or currency. Place it around the initial letters of Presidential and Laughter

10a      Chutzpah and wit in queen, for example? (4,4)
FACE CARD: A synonym of chutzpah, nerve or impudence (could be another body part in the same area) and a wit as a noun

11a      I see what you’re thinking! (4-6)
MIND READER:  A cryptic definition, someone who can visualise the thoughts of others.

14a      Row, some quarrel in essence (4)
LINE:  Hidden in the clue (some)

15a      Usual place secured by old player, shortly (3,8)
BOG STANDARD: The player here is an actor. Place him around a synonym of place as a verb. Now remove the final letter of his name. As a non film buff I amazed myself by clocking the parsing!

21a      Film not watched, heard? (4)
MIST:  A homophone (heard) of a word that could mean “not watched” or failed to see.

22a      Plot criminal act of a criminal? (10)
CONSPIRACY:  Start with the usual abbreviation for a criminal. Add the possessive S and a criminal act at sea.

25a      Contract worker cursing company at first? (8)
COVENANT:  The “cursing company” refers to a group of witches. Append one of our usual working insects.

27a      Worthless muck in head (2,4)
NO GOOD:  A sticky or slimy substance goes inside a synonym of head (a football maybe) as a verb.

28a      In front of tots, dog pants (5,6)
BOXER SHORTS:  Some tots in the alcoholic sense are preceded by a (rather nice) breed of dog.


1d        Stand in effect taken up after fall (6)
TRIPOD:  A 2-letter word that could mean in effect or act is reversed and tacked onto a fall or stumble

2d        What’s said to make people smile in Lancashire, maybe (6)
CHEESE:  What a photographer might instruct his subjects to say. Lancashire is a type of said word.

3d        A riddle lacking conclusion — I doubt that! (2,2)
AS IF: A from the clue and a synonym of riddle in the sense of strain which loses its last letter.

4d        Pile of straw blocks raised a shade (5,3)
BRICK RED: A pile of straw goes inside (blocks) a synonym of raised in the sense of nurtured.

5d        Perfectionist provided ultimately faultless puzzle (8)
STICKLER:  An informal word for a puzzle, a  difficult or delicate problem follows the final letter of faultless.

7d        Falsify documentation for firm (5)
RIGID: A synonym of falsify or doctor plus the abbreviation for some personal papers.

8d        Turn  eccentric (5)
CRANK:  Two meanings, one a verb the other a noun. I could think of many illustrations for the latter but discretion rules!

12d      Daily   banter (3)
RAG:  Another double definition, one a down-market daily, the other in the sense of make fun of.

13d      Channel God in Babel (5)
DRAIN:  A 2-letter Egyptian god goes inside a synonym of a babel or noise.

16d      Turn to honed instrument in the end, sharp (2,3,3)
ON THE DOT:  Anagram (turn) of the following two words plus final letter of instrument.

17d      Philosopher needs help to carry box (8)
SOCRATES: A three letter signal of distress contains (to carry) a  type of box.

18d      Old pugilist taking out leader of country (3)
ALI:  Remove the initial letter of an African country (not my original island!) to give crosswordland’s favourite pugilist.

19d      Bumper books for dogmatist (5)
BIGOT:  A synonym of bumper in the sense of large or plenty plus some biblical books.

20d      Dig up    new story (5)
SCOOP: Double definition, one a verb the other a noun often associated with one of the meanings of 12d.

23d      US university cricket side flag (6)
PENNON:  Start with the abbreviation for an Ivy League US university and add a cricket side.

24d      Resort barely okay (6)
RIGHTON:  Remove the outside letters (barely) of an East Sussex coastal resort to give an informal word for okay.

26d      Throw in the direction of ship (4)
TOSS:  Split the solution 2-2 and the wordplay will become apparent.

In a strong field my winners are 15&25a plus 3d. Which clues did you like?



15 comments on “Toughie 2893

  1. Wotta lotta fun that was. Humphrey got in the way of parsing 15 across until I saw the light.
    Thanks to Dada for the fun and StephenL for the review

  2. It has always puzzled me that, having secured the services of Mr Halpern, the Telegraph is content to use him for start-of-week Toughies when those who’ve battled with him elsewhere know that he can be far trickier than this.
    However, Dada is never less than entertaining so thanks to him and to StephenL for the review.

    I’m pretty sure that we need an African country rather than an Indonesian island for 18d.

    My ticks went to 25a, 28a and 4d.

    1. I’m familiar with, and very much enjoy, ‘Paul’ puzzles in the Guardian,. They’re often trickier but also often heavily themed and/or with lots of cross-referenced interlinking clues. Together with a rather casual approach to meaningful surfaces, a touch of smuttiness, and more liberal Guardianesque wordplay. It’s impressive that he can alter his style so well for the Telegraph – I think he’s excellent in both guises, but given a choice I’d go for Dada :-)

  3. Crawled over the finish line, the nasty little four-letter 21a LOI. Now b***** obvious, of course. Thanks for the entertainment, Dada and SL.

  4. Excellent start to te Toughie week and I concur with SL’s **/****.
    Some clever parsing but nothing obscure.
    I thought that the 25a charade was in three parts from a company worker and a curse !
    Thanks to SL for the ‘cursing company’ on that blasted heath.
    Liked 9a and my favourite was 15a

  5. Most enjoyable.
    Concise and accurate clueing.
    Missed the reference so witches but the rest parsed itself.
    Thanks to both.

  6. A reasonably benign Toughie. It was just the pesky 7d that caused problems.
    My COTD is the slightly risqué 28a.

  7. Dada at his witty best and I certainly needed our blogger’s help with the parsing of a couple – 27a & 24d.
    11&21a greatly amused and my top two were 15a & 3d.

    Thanks to Dada and to Stephen for the review.

  8. A tale of two halves .. were one half a quarter and the other three-quarters! Must have spent half my time on the first quarter of the puzzle, staring at it blankly and wondering why this puzzle wasn’t a Friday toughie. A similar amount of time saw the rest of the puzzle fall into place, and by the end I was wondering why I had found it so challenging – I think this grid style, with the starting letters of fully half the clues unchecked, was half my problem. A cracking solve, but phew, I’m glad it’s all over.

    Too many good clues to single out any in particular for special mention, let alone a COTD. Many thanks to Dada and to Stephen.

    1. I think our editor likes these grids. 16 unchecked first letters 12 checked. It certainly adds to the difficulty

  9. Dada witty as ever and very enjoyable even though I needed some electronic help (letter reveals) in order to finish. 15a gets my top vote although it’s not a term familiar to us backwater Americans. Like Stephen, I thought that 25a and 3d rounded out the trio of winners. Thanks to Stephen and Dada.

  10. A good puzzle with the right level of difficulty for a Tuesday methinks.

    I did wonder what ‘provided’ is doing in 5 Down though, especially in terms of its part of speech as a link-word. In the sense I’m settling for, it means ‘on the condition or understanding (that a specified thing happens)’, which doesn’t quite work for me. Perhaps it was substituted for ‘given’, which would have sufficed.

    Answers on a postcard please, and thanks Dada and StephenL.

  11. We struck a logjam in the SE corner that somewhat delayed our completion.
    Lots of fun as usual from this setter.
    Thanks Dada and SL.

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