Sunday Toughie 27 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 27 (Hints)

Sunday Toughie No 27 by Robyn

Hints and Tips by Sloop John Bee

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The crossword wasn’t too difficult by Sunday Toughie standards, As I was awaiting the midnight publication of today’s toughie I fell asleep with a wee 8d at hand. I awoke with a start and made a meal of dealing with network and printer problems into the small hours. Thankfully when I was able to access the puzzle it wasn’t too difficult, either that or my crossword skills have come on leaps and bounds over the last 27 weeks.

I may have detected a slight theme as I have quite a few answers with a Sci-Fi / Space theme but I may have been led astray by the Twitter meme that today is the actual birthdate of George Jetson.

THE JETSONS, Jane, Judy, Astro, Elroy & George Jetson, 1962-87


Anyway here we go with an evenly split 14a/14d clues, exactly half of which I have hinted.

As it is a Prize puzzle I can only hint at a few and hope that will give you the checkers and inspiration to go further. I’ll be back just after the closing date with the full blog. Don’t forget to follow BD’s instructions in RED at the bottom of the hints!

I hope I don’t have to redact any comments but I am new at this and don’t want to rock the boat. If in doubt, I’ll rub it out! I think that sentence is a bit redundant. You have all been so helpful in sorting out prior failures of parsing and I am sure I will need similar help again.

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also” Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions. Some hints follow: Remember the site rules and play nicely.


1a Pioneer maybe in walk wearing special clothing (5,5)
Maybe is a sure-fire indicator of a definition by example, start with a walk at a particular rate, enclosed in an abbreviation of special and some clothing for the first in my theoretical theme.

Spacecraft's behavior no longer an “unsolved problem in physics” | Ars Technica
9a Head secures university finance to make recovery (6,4)
A slang term for the head secures the letter that university suggests, and gets some financial support.

13a Focused on Congress, game Republican stops inept bungling (8)
The game for 15 people with odd shaped balls, R for republican, go into an anagram of inept. An unhealthy interest in sexual congress.

15a Dishonest insolence in case of fraudster showing fabulous craft (6,6)
Synonyms of dishonest and insolence go in the case letters of FraudsteR. 

18a Awkward exclamation about her gown, with it off (12)
A partial anagram (indicated by off) of an exclamation and three other words in the clue.

25a One fills Spanish outfit with fur that can be attained (10)
The letter that looks like One, goes between a Spanish “outfit” that play Fútbol and a type of lustrous dark brown fur from arctic and subarctic marten.

27a Like e.g. pretty ugly, nondescript coats tailor’s beginning (10)
We finish the acrosses where we started with another definition by example, of two words that separately have opposite meanings. A synonym of nondescript includes the beginning letter of tailor.


1d Zigzag by vehicle heading north in US rail system (6)
A synonym of zigzag, as applied to ship, aircraft ( or moon landers) and a type of vehicle are both reversed (heading north in a down clue)

3d Key defender, one bound to provide entertainment (12)
Five words of definition and two of word-play, top left on most keyboards and a defender by argument.

10 Facts About Harry Houdini | Mental Floss
5d Intrepid hero agreed to enter Aylesbury area (4,6)
The radio codeword of agreement goes in the abbreviated county Aylesbury is in.

Buck Rogers 1940s Comic Strip 0307 | Buck Rogers News Paper … | Flickr
8d Medicine can treat stifling temperature (8)
A can, a treatment or remedy and T for temperature give us an alcoholic solution of a drug, in my case usually from the Scottish Highlands and Islands.
Ardbeg Perpetuum Committee Distillery Release Malt Whisky

14d Papers plugging top spy film from Chicago? (10)
James Bond’s boss, our usual papers and an American film genre produce someone from the Chicago area.

17d One with second mate advanced through vast fog (8)
Synonyms of vast and fog contain the letter that advanced suggests for someone who has married again without declaring or annulling his first marriage.

23d Characters in goal touching region of pitch (4)
A lurker, pitch here being the range of a male singing voice.

I have other tenuous candidates for the Sci-Fi/Space theme but as it is a prize it may be better to save them for the review. Maybe Robyn will pop in and explain.

Could new readers please read the Welcome Post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.
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Just a lovely piece of music I found while researching saxophones of a certain pitch..

11 comments on “Sunday Toughie 27 (Hints)

  1. Loved this Toughie! Of course it helps to have an unaided finish, but this one gelled for me right off the bat, with 1a, and climaxed, joyfully, with my Clue of the Week, 27a. Over these 27 weeks, as SJB has moved into the grand master’s chair, I’ve come to really admire this gifted setter and look forwards to Robyn’s next masterstroke. Hard to beat this one, with not a dud in the grid. I must add that 13a drew quite a giggle from me–one might even say a reminiscent kind of snicker, at that. Dear me. Thanks to SJB and Robyn.

    Thanks for the John Legend piece. I’ve been an ardent fan of his ever since I saw him in a live performance of ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’.

  2. At the friendly end of the Robyn Toughie spectrum but a most enjoyable crossword which flowed nicely from start to finish

    Thanks to him and SJB

  3. Robyn today was uncharacteristically gentle but as entertaining as always – thanks to him and SJB.
    My podium consists of 9a, 13a and 2d.

  4. I concur with comments above. After their last one, I found this on the less threatening end of the Robyn scale – after all, I finished it! – but nonetheless challenging (and to those who think today’s backpager was a Toughie I suggest they try this by way of comparison) and most enjoyable.

    27a was new (or forgotten) to me but I had ticks all over the place – great clues, plenty of wit and humour. MIDs to 1a, 1, 4, 5, & 7d, and laurels shared between 13a and 3d.

    Super puzzle, with many thanks to Robyn & of course to SJB.

  5. A comfortable solve over breakfast this morning, albeit somewhat prolonged and well into my second mug of coffee. LOI was 20d which held me up for some time until the penny dropped. I thought the 4 letter clues were neatly worked, with 2 of them appearing in my list of favourites which were 9, 10, 13 & 18 across and 2, 4, 7 & 11 down. I hadn’t come across 27a in the adjective form before but the wordplay made it accessible. Thanks, Robyn, for a pleasant and enjoyable crossword, and to SJB for his nicely illustrated hints.

  6. Wish I could appreciate the cleverness of this setter but it escapes me. Add in the possibility of a sci-fi theme and it’s enough to have me running for the hills!
    Redeeming features for me in this one were 9a plus 2&3d.

    Thanks to Robyn and apologies for not being on your wavelength. Thanks also to JB who is making a splendid job of sitting in the Sunday hot seat. Hope Mama Bee enjoyed the concert.

  7. Hi SJB,
    Excellent work with the hints! Since you asked – there is no intended theme in this puzzle whatsoever, and any common ground shared by solutions is pure coincidence.
    All best!

    1. Thanks for popping in and thanks for another excellent puzzle. I guess I saw 1a and 15a and remembered reading about the birthdate of George Jetson.
      JB and SJB seem to be popular initials in Sunday Toughie land

  8. Like Jane, I was not on Robyn’s wavelength.To be honest, there were many clues I just didn’t understand let alone solve!
    Well done SJB.

  9. Now that I’m working on a Sunday I haven’t got around to the Toughie for some time. Glad that I did this one a day late. At the gentler end but hugely enjoyable. Fully agree with Robert’s view on 27a – my clear favourite also.
    Thanks to Robyn & SJB

    1. I am also finding a new job is impinging on my crosswording but in my case it is Mon to Fri that don’t get the attention required early enough to trouble the blog. I am still here, still doing crosswords, but most has been said by the time I finish.
      Glad you enjoyed it and no matter how late your comments are noted and appreciated.

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