Toughie 2894 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2894

Toughie No 2894 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ****

Always a pleasure to solve a crossword from this setter and today’s start of the week Toughie was no exception. Lots to enjoy as usual but I could, perhaps, do without the ear worm!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    In commentary, appreciated extent of bridging needed for pot (8)
SAUCEPAN A homophone (in commentary) of a way of saying appreciated and the extent of a bridge

6a    Suspicion surrounding hotel in ancient region (6)
THRACE A small, barely detectable, quantity (suspicion) ‘surrounding’ the abbreviation for Hotel

9a, 6 Down & 13 Down 14 recording dark matter image, and those needing adjustment (4,2,2,3,5,4)
TAKE ME TO THE MARDI GRAS An anagram (needing adjustment) of DARK MATTER IMAGE and THOSE

10a    Having contest no side wins, pull out (8)
WITHDRAW A preposition meaning having and a contest where no side wins

11a    Frenchman in Spanish city, expert swimmer (5,3)
LEMON DAB The abbreviation for a French man inserted into a Spanish city followed by an informal word for an expert

12a    Stone tool — it goes into collapsed hole (6)
EOLITH IT (from the clue) inserted into an anagram (collapsed) of HOLE

13a    Capital parking secured by villain in lucrative scheme (5-7)
MONEY-SPINNER Capital in the sense of currency and the abbreviation for Parking inserted into (secured by) a villain

16a    Criminal computer user appeal heard here (7,5)
SUPREME COURT An anagram (criminal) of COMPUTER USER

19a    Learn by intuition and pass round the Bordeaux? (6)
DIVINE A verb meaning to pass goes round the French word for wine (Bordeaux?)

21a    Anticipation of wisdom keeping American quiet (8)
SUSPENSE A synonym for wisdom ‘keeping’ the abbreviation for American and the abbreviated musical instruction to play quietly

23a    Unbalanced cook with extremely antisocial air (8)
MADRIGAL Mentally disordered (unbalanced), a verb meaning to manipulate dishonestly (cook) and the extreme letters of AntisociaL

24a    Commons staff to hold one Liberal back for spite (6)
MALICE A heavy staff that represents the power delegated by the Monarchy to the House of Commons into which is inserted (to hold) a reversal (back) of I (one) and the abbreviation for Liberal

25a    Domestic heater old man mentioned (6)
GEYSER A homophone (mentioned) of a slang word for an old man

26a    Lecturer fighting to axe constant grant (8)
DONATION A university lecturer and some fighting, the latter having the abbreviation for Constant removed (to axe)


2d    Piece of publicity about Long Kesh caused astonishment (6)
AMAZED An abbreviated piece of publicity goes ‘about’ the informal name for Northern Ireland’s Long Kesh Prison

3d    Conservative with update for guiding principles (5)
CREDO The abbreviation for Conservative and a verb meaning to do again (update)

4d    £25 should cover rising charges — thousand for Banksy, perhaps (9)
PSEUDONYM A slang term for £25 ‘covers’ a reversal (rising) of some charges, the result followed by the Roman numeral for thousand

5d    Delivering lad latest ASBO not a worry in the end (7)
NEWSBOY An adjective meaning the latest, aSBO (from the clue, but with the a removed – not a) and the end letter of worrY

6d    See 9

7d    Mars socialist idea over case for employment (3,6)
RED PLANET The colour associated with a socialist, an idea and the ‘case’ for EmploymenT

8d    Orchestra, perhaps unloved, plays in cathedral city (8)
CHARTRES Remove the letter representing love (unloved) from oRCHESTRA and an anagram (plays) of the remaining letters will produce a French cathedral city

13d    See 9

14d    China has one day to allow entry for classy singer (4,5)
PAUL SIMON A way of saying an informal friend (China being Cockney rhyming slang for a friend) has, I (one) and an abbreviated day of the week, into which is inserted the letter representing upper class

15d    Bizarre fatigue besetting million — what smoking can do (8)
FUMIGATE An anagram (bizarre) of FATIGUE into which is inserted (besetting) the abbreviation for Million

17d    Players under guidance made double move in game (7)
CASTLED A company of players in a particular play and a verb meaning ‘under guidance’

18d    Gypsy Chorus sampled for Thriller (6)
PSYCHO A film thriller is hidden in a sample of gyPSY CHOrus

20d    Keen listener gathering tips on grapevine (5)
EAGER A body part used for listening ‘gathering’ the outside letters (tips) on GrapevinE

22d    MDMA with powder taken up brings striking effect (5)
ECLAT The single letter by which the drug MDMA is known followed by a reversal of some powder


28 comments on “Toughie 2894

  1. A pleasant and not too demanding Toughie that was most enjoyable and entertaining to complete. It is very difficult to pick out a single clue from such an elegant selection, but I really did like 8d.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and CS.

  2. Donny as wily and witty as ever with this fun and quite accessible Toughie. Very enjoyable
    Getting the recording and subsequently the singer early on was a massive help. Couple of new references in there but obtainable from wordplay and checkers.
    I particularly liked 1,19&23a plus 2d, which brought back memories of how bad things once were in part of The UK, but today’s winner for me the super 4d.

    Many thanks to the aforementioned setter and Cryptic Sue.

  3. I enjoyed this immensely despite not finishing because the fish defeated me, primarily because I could not think of many Spanish cities. I did get PAUL SIMON but struggled to parse the S from the clue. Can anyone elaborate?

  4. An entertaining puzzle. Is Donny’s secret the way the clue elements are so cunningly disguised – e.g. “commons staff” in 24a or “Banksy perhaps” in 4d? I also liked 19a [my nearly last in because I had convinced myself that “the Bordeaux’ would be a definite article] and 1a [last in] which I stared at for ages despite being pretty certain about the “extent of bridging” bit.
    Thanks to Donnybrook and to CS [6a needs masking].

  5. Very enjoyable – thanks to Donnybrook and CS.
    The top clues for me were 19a, 4d and 5d.

  6. As always, far more difficult for me than for our illustrious reviewer but I did enjoy the challenge.
    Liked the allusion to snooker in 1a and my favourite was 13a – how very true!

    Thanks to Donnybrook and to CS for the review.

  7. At last I’ve finished one on the day, Friday through to Sunday due to time constraints, Monday and Tuesday due to my inability to solve them at one sitting. It wasn’t looking good for the rest of the week but Donnybrook to the rescue. Lots to like but I’ll go with 7d for favourite. Thanks to Donnybrook and CS.

  8. Many elegant things in this excellent puzzle.

    Among all the glittering offerings, perhaps 1 Across sums the puzzle up well, with the ingenious ‘extent of bridging’ and associated snooker ruse. *****/*** for me.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook, and to Cryptic Sue for her — also excellent — blog.

  9. That Paul Simon song was a beast. Dark Matter is also a Persian pop group so an internet search got really confusing.
    I’ll settle for 23a as my COTD as it reminds me of Mrs Madrigal in Armisted Maupin’s 1978 “Tales of the City”. Happy days!

  10. At first I thought this was going to be a stinker – I tend to dislike puzzles with clues that jump about the place like a demented flea on a caffeine overdose, let alone cross-referenced clues, so harrumphed for a while before starting in the south. Much easier and far less off-putting! The singer then fell swiftly, as then did the rest of the puzzle. I’ve never heard (of) that song before. Lots of great clues and my podium contenders were 1a, 19a, 4d and 8d.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and to CS.

  11. Loved it! A complete joy, an unaided finish once I realised (I think) that the heater alluded to in 25a is pronounced ‘geezer’, not ‘guyzer’, which is how we say it in the Colonies (am I right?). Simon is one of life’s great wonders, a singer, writer, poet, and quiet activist beyond reproach and always a joy to listen to. I have all of his recordings and most of the lyrics memorised (well, after all of these years, how could I not?) So 14d and 9a etc have to be my favourite clues. Many thanks to Donnybrook for the pleasure and to CS for the review, even though I don’t quite get the ‘sauce’ in 1a.

      1. Thanks, CS. Can you give me an example of ‘saw’ = ‘appreciated’? I’m feeling very dense today.

        1. Saw, recognised, appreciated how brilliant Big Dave’s Crossword Blog is at helping solvers understand cryptic crosswords

  12. Took me most of today, but great fun. Never got the fish and needed Sue’s help (tvm) to understand 10 and 26a. Thank you, Mr Doorknob.

  13. A few bits of GK such as Long Kesh had us doing a bit of Googling but did get it all sorted.
    Lots of cleverness and good fun to solve.
    Thanks Donnybrook and CS.

  14. Very late evening solve, all has been said already I guess – but had to pop in as I thought this was really excellent throughout. Thank you NYDK and CS

  15. Lovely puzzle. Agree with Gazza’s choice of the top 3 clues & like Jane enjoyed the snooker allusion in the 1a surface read. Only gripe is with the DT digital version’s refusal to enumerate the 9a/6d/13d properly- switched to the puzzles site to read it. Not often (if ever) I can rattle through a Donny puzzle without a deal of head scratching so a bit of a confidence booster & time maybe to return to yesterday’s Dada & those left to complete.
    Thanks all.

  16. Thanks to Donnybrook and to crypticsue for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but I only managed most of the NE corner. Couldn’t get any more, looked at the hints, still a lot I couldn’t fathom. It was very frustrating, I kept getting half of a lot of the two-word answers, but not the other half. Such is life.

  17. Another excellent Donnybrook puzzle. I especially liked 4d and of course the Rhymin’ Simon clues.

    Thanks to DB and CS.

  18. Well I’m so pleased that I managed a few unaided. Then I attempted a few more with the explanations but then ground to a halt! I’m with Heno on this as I got half clues too. Even with the excellent clues I did struggle- but onwards and upwards. I do remember geysers as a child and the old one that my grandparents had was terrifying as it had to be lit with a match and would sound as if it was exploding. Luckily it was only one bath a week in those days. Many thanks to Donnybrook and Cryptic Sue.

  19. A reasonable offering not really a toughie in my book and i was surprised to see a pop singer featured

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