Toughie 2898 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2898

Toughie No 2898 by Django

Hints and tips by Crypticsue

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

Thank you to Django for a Toughie of the difficulty level we hope for on a Wednesday, or even a Thursday,  but very rarely get. A great test of the cryptic grey matter and that was before I had to work out how to explain several of the clues.


1a    Garnish with leaves to cover old, ropey game? (4,6)
DECK QUOITS A verb meaning to garnish and a verb meaning leaves, the latter ‘covering’ the abbreviation for Old

6a    Some buy e-book about respect (4)
OBEY Hidden in reverse (about) in some of buY E BOok

10a    Privy Counsellor ultimately consumed American grub (5)
LARVA The ultimate letter of counselloR is ‘consumed’ by an abbreviated privy, the result followed with the abbreviation for American

11a    Hair filling out after first cut — it results in a groovy look (9)
FURROWING Some hair (of an animal perhaps) and a verb meaning filling out without its first letter (after first cut)

12a    Mournful English/Gaelic translation (7)
ELEGIAC The abbreviation for English and an anagram (translation) of GAELIC

13a    Lucky dip bishop operated — only on the counter (4,3)
BRAN TUB The chess abbreviation for Bishop, a synonym for operated and a reversal (on the counter) of an adverb meaning only

14d    Husband with issue retreated by hospital — working with doctor I start to acknowledge neurosis (12)
HYPOCHONDRIA The abbreviation for Husband, a reversal (retreated) of an issue (of a magazine perhaps), the abbreviation for Hospital, the usual two-letter ‘working’, an abbreviated doctor, I (from the clue) and the ‘start’ to Acknowledge

18a    Joke, for example, Hackney, London’s an obscure place (3-5,4)
ONE-HORSE TOWN A joke, as in ‘did you hear the xxx about’, an equine for general use (hackney) and an urban area like London

21a    Snubbed Runyon’s Detroit drinking bar — it’s volatile (7)
NAPHTHA Here you have to know that Damon Runyon ‘s stories were turned into the musical Guys and Dolls, and then know the Christian name of the main character, Mr Detroit. The final letter of this name should be removed (snubbed) and an abbreviated bar inserted (as indicated by drinking)

23a    Discontented hackers succeeded, capturing heartless tech giant — unlucky (7)
HAPLESS The outside (discontented) letters of HackerS and the abbreviation for Succeeded, ‘capturing’ a well-known tech giant without its middle letter (heartless)

24a    Heavyweight’s heading to meet Rocky Marciano — one might blow it (9)
HARMONICA The ‘heading’ of Heavyweight followed by (to meet) an anagram (rocky) of MARCIANO

25a    Up and about, protecting endangered species (5)
PANDA Hidden in (protected by) uP AND About

26a    Characteristic of duvet and a sheet that’s worn? (4)
TOGA The unit of measurement of insulation provided by a duvet and A (from the clue)

27a    Watch band making American sort of welcome (6-4)
TICKER-TAPE A slang term for a watch and a band


1d    Sweet cryptic clue accepted by Daily Telegraph initially (6)
DULCET An anagram (cryptic) of CLUE ‘accepted’ by the initial letters of Daily Telegraph

2d    Travel at high speed in pursuit (6)
CAREER To travel at high speed or a profession or occupation (pursuit)

3d    Feature key way to maintain standards (7,7)
QUALITY CONTROL A property or feature of something and a key found on your computer keyboard

4d    Rotten and Vicious after withdrawing Virgin’s debut for meddling (9)
OFFICIOUS A simple way of saying that something is rotten followed by vICIOUS (withdrawing Virgin’s debut telling you to ignore the V)

5d    Beat poet with flair to ad-lib finally (5)
THROB The final letters of poeT witH flaiR tO ad-liB

7d    Second-rate celebs form bubbles (8)
BLISTERS If first-rate celebs are A-xxxxxxx, what are second-rate celebs?

8d    Several months touring regressive, almost racist, comic character (4,4)
YOGI BEAR A period of several months ‘touring’ a reversal (regressive) of almost all of a racist

9d    Perhaps Sheffield Star‘s revealed conclusively Simon Cowell appears to have cosmetic alterations (5,9)
LOCAL NEWSPAPER An anagram (cosmetic alterations) of the last letter (conclusively) of simoN COWELL APPEARS

15d    According to Spooner, pack journalist’s car (9)
HATCHBACK How the dreaded reverend might pack an informal journalist

16d    One involved Armstrong and Miller’s big character — love dealing with picture (8)
MOONSHOT The first letter of Miller (a big [capital] character), the letter representing love, a simple way of saying dealing with and a picture

17d    Game of golf with par broken around bottom of course (8)
LEAPFROG An anagram (broken) of GOLF with PAR put ‘around’ the bottom letter of course

19d    Removing all restrictions on the nerd and his lab leads to breakthrough (6)
HERNIA The inside letters (removing all restrictions) of tHe nERd aNd hIs lAb

20d    Holiday in Spain on southern peninsula (6)
ESCAPE The IVR code for Spain, the abbreviation for Southern and a peninsula

22d    Excuse one vital urge with no function (5)
ALIBI A (one) and a vital urge where the verb meaning to function is removed


19 comments on “Toughie 2898
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  1. I had almost as many question marks as asterisks in the margin of this super puzzle from Django.
    For 21a I googled for Runyon’s Detroit to find that several of you had already googled the entire clue! Miller’s big character also caused trouble in 16d – very clever. As for 9d – those of us [all one of us?] who grew up in The Peoples Republic and were members of the Gloops Club got that one right away. 14a is a worthy tour-de-force and 4d works cleverly with a lovely surface.
    Thanks to Django [a worthy successor to Petitjean] and to CS for the blog.

  2. I love this setter’s puzzles, especially his brilliant use of names in the wordplay, 24a and the LOL 4d being prime examples. Fresh and vibrant throughout, he invariably produces plenty of smiles.
    I needed the hint for 21a, my only slight disappointment. My ticks go to the aforementioned 24a&4d along with 9,16&17d. Great stuff.
    Many thanks to Django and CS.

  3. Love Django’s puzzles, and this one didn’t disappoint – great clues throughout, far too many to pick favourites. Thanks Django & CS

  4. An entertaining puzzle – thanks to Django and CS.
    I needed to enlist Mrs Google’s help to understand 21a.
    My favourite clue was 16d.

  5. Fantastic stuff as usual from Django – thought 19d was brilliant.

    Many thanks to the setter and to CS for the blog, especially 21a which was a bung-in for me.

  6. Where to start? I find this setter’s compilations a little wordy for difficult to get into, yet end up thoroughly enjoying the wordplay. His use of names is very clever and innovative, none more so than the quite brilliant 24a.

    My thanks to Django and CS.

  7. Lots of fun to be had here today. I wasn’t keen on the Detroit/Guys and Dolls answer, too much of a leap for a poorly schooled orphan boy. Keep em coming though DJango. I like em.
    Thanks to Cryptic Sue for the blog and to DJango for the smiles

  8. Great puzzle – a real Toughie 👏
    Only beaten by 21a. Even after revealing CS answer I had to read the tip 2 or 3 times to understand the parsing. The 3 layers of GK before even starting to parse meant I would never have solved this clue.
    But, I suppose that is why it is called a toughie 🤔

  9. Obviously not heard of the character in 24a and needed the hint to parse 22d and the first word in 18a. I completed the rest with difficulty. Favourite was 24a. Thanks to Django and CS.

  10. Since I rather grew up with Runyon and Guys & Dolls (‘A Bushel and a Peck’; ‘Adelaide’s Lament’), I know who Nathan Detroit is (and, in my naive dotage, would think that everyone does, but obviously not), so 21a was an early gift for me. I had a few glitches elsewhere, though, and needed a bit of electronic help to finish, but I did finish. Favourites: 14a, 18a, & 24a; COTD, though, has to be 21a. Terrific puzzle but definitely an acquired taste, this wizardly Django. Thanks to him and to CS.

  11. The NE corner was the last to give way
    I see my bung in answers are correct but, oh dear me, do I need your explanations!
    COTD 7d

  12. Give the man a Sunday Toughie slot. I loved this, particularly the Rocky Marciano clue and 1d amused too.
    Thanks to DJango and CS, Naphtha was a bit of a leap but blame my lack of education on the Runyonesque gaps in my knowledge.

  13. Thanks for the blog CS. And for the comments, all.

    Anything requiring general knowledge is always likely to be somewhat contentious, but I don’t think the Nathan Detroit fact is quite as deeply buried as it seems. Damon Runyon created a character called Nathan Detroit. That’s it.

    The fact that Guys & Dolls was based on some of those stories and the character appeared in that show is really neither here nor there. It’s another way in which you might have heard of Nathan Detroit (Sinatra played him in the movie) but it’s not an essential link in a notional chain of facts that all have to be discerned before the clue can be parsed any more than someone would need to know, say, the music of Lionel Bart to understand that Mr Bumble is a character in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

  14. Loved this puzzle – thank you, Django. Thought you were being quite gentle with us, but that was probably because there were two
    answers that were clearly right, but which I didn’t bother to parse! Those were Mr Detroit, and the excuse (which I still don’t understand) – but everything else was so fairly clued, and I was chuckling throughout as pennies dropped.

    Hon Mentions for me were 23a, 24a, 15d & 19d.

    Thank you again, and thanks also to CS

    1. Seeing your comment about the ‘excuse’ clue made me look at the blog again to see why it might not be clear to you, Mustafa… and in doing so, I realised that Cryptic Sue’s explanation was (ever so) slightly different to my intended parsing.

      Excuse one vital urge with no function.

      ALIBI (excuse) = A (one) LIBIDO (vital urge) with no DO (function)

      I didn’t think of DO being a verb ‘to function’ – although that works perfectly well – I only thought of it as a noun – party/function, bit of a do etc.

      1. Thank you for the elucidation, Django – that was a vital urge I had certainly not considered. I’ve enjoyed G&D when I’ve seen it, but had no recollection of Mr Runyon … Naphtha sprang to my mind from the N&T, I remembered what it was from schoolboy chemsitry, saw the pub, and that was enough for me!

  15. Annoyingly beaten by 21a. Got the Guys & Dolls reference ( my favourite musical with Bob Hoskins best I’ve seen as Nathan) but missed the bar insertion & never heard of the answer. As ever a super puzzle with very clever wordplay – enough contenders to fill 3 podia.
    Thanks to Django & CS

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