Toughie 2902 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2902

Toughie No 2902 by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by Crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

A nice ‘middle of the week’ Toughie from Stick Insect

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1a    At first, shopper ridicules maternity dresses (6)
SMOCKS The first letter of Shopper and another way of saying ridicules

5a    Rock outside broadcast, daughter is backing Dury, perhaps (8)
OBSIDIAN An abbreviated Outside Broadcast, a reversal (backing) of IS (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Daughter, and a man’s Christian name, perhaps that of Mr Dury, the singer

9a    Flat could literally become flaunted (10)
UNINFLATED The solution is literally a way of describing flaUNted

10a    Taunt soldier, born next to base (4)
GIBE An American soldier, the abbreviation for Born and the letter that is the base of the natural system of logarithms

11a    Angry, smart about lost role (8)
CHOLERIC A synonym of smart in the sense of fashionable goes ‘about’ an anagram (lost) of ROLE

12a    The law destroyed riches (6)
WEALTH An anagram (destroyed) of THE LAW

13a    Blue drink vile, no contest about it! (4)
TEAL A hot drink and the letter left when you have removed a synonym for contest from VILE

15a    Heard green drink is sweet (8)
LOLLIPOP A homophone (heard) of an informal term for money (green being a slang, especially American, word for money) followed by some fizzy drink

18a    Opening almost perfect quantity of food (8)
MOUTHFUL An opening and almost all of a synonym for perfect

19a    Examine the empty street (4)
TEST The outside (empty) letters of ThE and the abbreviation for street

21a    Hard worker turning in too many drafts (6)
DYNAMO Hidden in reverse (turning) in toO MANY Drafts

23a    Maybe Stubbs composition of fair day is daring (8)
UNAFRAID The Christian name of Ms Stubbs, the actress, an anagram (composition) of FAIR, and the abbreviation for Day

25a    Male flaps when cycling (4)
STAG The final letter of some flaps is cycled to the front of the word

26a    Cleaner trained to embrace advanced living (5,5)
DAILY BREAD A cleaner and a synonym for trained, the abbreviation for Advanced being ’embraced’ by the latter

27a    Encourage noble dame working answer out (8)
EMBOLDEN An anagram (working) of NOBLE DaME without the abbreviation for Answer

28a    Desert that woman? I should think so (6)
RATHER A verb meaning to desert and a pronoun meaning that woman


2d    Eat a lot around November (5)
MUNCH A lot of something goes around the letter represented by November in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

3d    Romantic clubs with lake mostly exclusive (9)
CANDLELIT The abbreviation for Clubs, a conjunction meaning with, the abbreviation for Lake and most of a synonym for exclusive

4d    Unfortunately rises track pay (6)
SALARY A reversal (rises) of a synonym for unfortunately followed by the abbreviation for railway (track)

5d    False vision in choice involving independent California damaging the States (7,8)
OPTICAL ILLUSION Insert into a choice the abbreviation for Independent, the abbreviation for the State of California, an adverb meaning damaging and the abbreviation for the United States

6d    Team round Biden’s path (8)
SIDEWALK An American word for pavement, as indicated by the name of the current POTUS – a team and an accustomed round

7d    Follow graduate creed (5)
DOGMA A verb meaning to follow and an abbreviated graduate

8d    Three under obligation (9)
ALBATROSS A golf score of three under par or an oppressive obligation

14d    Green plan for community (9)
ECOSYSTEM A combining word relating to green issues and a plan

16d    Italian team ready for French solve (9)
INTERPRET An Italian football team and the French word for ready

17d    Provided American river crossing with agent for protection (8)
AFFORDED The abbreviation for American, and a river crossing, the latter inserted into (for protection) an abbreviated [FBI] agent

20d    Brief hen to bear weight (6)
LAWYER A description of a hen into which is inserted (to bear) the abbreviation for Weight

22d    Acclaimed director receives Oscar for finishing touches to The Battle of Britain (5)
ANGLO Replace the two Es (the ‘finishing touches’ of thE and battle) in the name of the acclaimed film director (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Brokeback Mountain, The Life of Pi) with the letter represented by Oscar in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

24d    Furious buccaneer losing power (5)
IRATE A buccaneer ‘losing’ the abbreviation for Power

29 comments on “Toughie 2902
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  1. A good mid-week challenge with a suitable amount of head scratching – ***/****.

    It took forever for the PDM for 8d and the PDM for 22d never arrived so that was a bung-in and a wait for CS’s explanation.

    Candidates for favourite – 5a, 13a, 23a, and 7d – and the winner is 13a.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

  2. How brilliant is 22d anyway? Fabulous! Brilliant director, brilliant clue, COTWeek. Loved this puzzle, with 13a, 9a, & 26a outshining the other stars a wee bit. Thanks to CS and to Stick Insect.

    1. Bunged in the answer & embarrassingly took me an age to parse it. Crash beating Brokeback for best pic would be right up there with the worst decisions of the Academy though this year not far behind.
      Great clue, great director…

  3. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks to SI and CS.
    On my podium I’ve stuck 9a (I love that type of clue), 8d and 22d.

  4. My first thought on completion was that it was a proper tough Toughie.
    We came across Una for maybe Stubbs before , but it took me a long time to remember it.
    I still don’t really get the explanation of 8d.
    Thanks to CS and Stick insect.

  5. Finished the back pager early in the day for me and was at a loose end so tackled this.

    Although I needed the hints for 3 clues, still chuffed to have solved most of the crossword.

    Thanks to all.

  6. I filled in the grid relatively quickly but more than happy to hand over the parsing duties of a couple (9a&22) to our esteemed blogger. Never heard of the director but appreciate the ingenuity of the clue.
    16a plus 3&8d also particularly appealed in this enjoyable exercise.
    Many thanks to SI and Sue.

  7. I needed the hint to parse 9a, 11a was a new word for me but fairly clued and having worked out how 22d might work I Googled it as one word, not holding out much hope, and there it was 3 and 3. I’d never heard of him of course. Favourite was 20d. Thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

  8. Thought it would be the cycling clue that defeated me but it turned out to be the acclaimed director. I have enough trouble remembering the names of films, let alone who directed them!
    Several answers vying for the top spots but eventually settled on 9,13&26a.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to CS for the review.

  9. From the sublime (5a, COTD 9a, 3d, 8d) to the ridiculous (14a, because I had never heard of green being a slang term for money anywhere, let alone in America; fortunately “it could only be” and my bung-in was correct) this puzzle had me veering from thinking “that’s clever” through to “gosh that’s tenuous”. Rather too much America for me. I share Jane’s difficulties with films/directors: we rarely if ever watch films anyway, and I’m suitably penalised for not really giving a monkey’s who a film’s director might be … entirely my loss!

    A reasonably gentle Toughie and largely satisfying to complete. Thank you to SI and CS.

  10. Yes 22D was an entertaining item all of its own, in a very good puzzle! I can never quite remember what that particular gentleman has directed, in spite of his brilliance, but certainly one cannot include TBOB in his canon. **/***.

  11. I don’t think “independent” achieves its intended purpose in 5D. The abbreviation is for “Independent”, as Sue says in her analysis of the clue, and it isn’t really OK to de-capitalise (although generally considered fair in most cryptics these days to use an upper case letter in place of a lower case one).

      1. Thanks, Gazza. The Telegraph does, however, have its own list of permitted single-letter abbreviations for its crossword puzzles which does not include everything that appears in the standard dictionaries, and those for I include “Independent” but not “independent”. The same applies for L for “Liberal”, but not “liberal”, and C for “Conservative” (not “conservative”).

        As far as the abbreviations in Chambers are concerned, I think there may be a difference between what it says on the app and what it says in the printed edition, which is a bit disconcerting!

        1. Do you have access to the Telegraph’s list of permitted single-letter abbreviations? I didn’t know such a list existed and it would be helpful if you could provide a link.

          1. I do have it, but as a pdf, and not in a form for which I could provide a link. If you have access to my e-mail address drop me a line and I’ll send it to you by return. It could be useful to have it accessible somewhere on this website as a point of reference for bloggers and solvers. I doubt that Chris Lancaster would object, but probably best to clear it with him in advance if you decide to do that. The reason I have it is that I test solve for one of the Toughie setters.

            I also have the corresponding Times list.

    1. CrypticSue is much kinder than me. I’d have written – A five part charade 1 A synonym of the word choice. 2 The abbreviation for independent 3 An abbreviation of California 4 A rather stretched synonym of damaging 5 The usual abbreviation for the United States. Arrange as per the wording of the clue – Or here are the components, do some work yourselves

  12. A corker of a Wednesday puzzle. Lots to smile about and a puzzle that needed checkers to solve but once in place in enough quantity off I went. Thanks to Stick Insect for a quality puzzle and to CrypticSue for unraveling said puzzle

  13. Thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. Found it about on a par with in terms of difficulty with Jay’s great back-pager. Currently 13a shy of completion & hopefully that will dawn on me later (yesterday’s HELPMEET needed an overnight sleep). 22d my clear fav but big ticks also for 9,11&26a plus 8d.
    Thanks to Stick Insect & CS.

    1. I really should have included 8d among my stellar grouping above. I fully agree with your comments about the disgraceful behaviour of the Academy, not only re Crash (which we tried watching again a few weeks ago and we couldn’t even stomach it halfway through–it was that bad!) over Brokeback, and again this year with Power of the Dog losing to CODA. In this house, Ang Lee is a household world, as are his movies. Hard to believe that some have never even heard of him. Jimmy loves Life of Pi, and I worship Brokeback; we both are awed by Crouching Tiger.

  14. Found the SW corner very difficult Those pesky 4 letter words defeated me. I didn’t get 25a, 13a and, at 5 letters, 22d.which I don’t still understand. 13a was particularly irritating in that teal can also be green!
    COTD is 5a just because I like the word

  15. Thanks to everyone who’s commented – always helpful to know what is and isn’t liked – and to Sue for the blog.

    I agree fully with those who really liked 22d but, in the interest of fairness, credit belongs to the Toughie editor. Originally I had clued aggro, but that appeared in yesterday’s puzzle too, so the editor changed the entry and kindly supplied the clue.

  16. Thank you, Stick Insect. I don’t often try Toughies, but on a quick glance I got a few clues in the top-left straight away, and it dragged me in! It took me till this morning to complete. Thanks also to CrypticSue, without whom I wouldn’t’ve bothered to continue, and who indeed whose hints I did need a few times.

    26a (“advanced living”) is my favourite of the clues I managed to solve by myself. Of the ones I needed assistance with, 9a (“literally”) is my favourite by Stick Insect, and 22d (“director”) my favourite by somebody else!

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