Toughie 2903 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2903

Toughie No 2903 by Kcit

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

Kcit has provided today’s Toughie and he’s included lots of reversals. I spent as long trying to parse 2d as I did on the rest of the puzzle and I still can’t crack it so if you can do please let me know the secret and stop me puzzling about it in this hot weather.
STOP PRESS: The clue has now been changed on the Telegraph Puzzles site. See the revised clue at 2d.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a Recall spiel and sell sporting accessory (4,3)
GOLF BAG: stick together informal verbs to spiel and sell then reverse the result.

9a Pound I contributed to plain area in big church (8)
BASILICA: insert the abbreviation for pound sterling and I into an adjective meaning plain and append the abbreviation for area.

10a Key support returned precisely after expert’s brought in (7).
TAPROOT: reverse a phrase (2,1,1) meaning precisely and insert an abbreviated expert.

11a Father with fiddle, but nothing moves in part of ear (8)
PAVILION: glue together an affectionate word for father and a fiddle but with the nothing-shaped letter of the latter moved to a later position.

12a Responsible fellow keeping it in line? On the contrary (6)
GUILTY: an informal word for a fellow containing the abbreviation for line inside IT.

13a Pursuing something we stock? Hard to get in when the shop’s shut (5,5)
AFTER HOURS: a preposition meaning pursuing and a possessive pronoun that could mean ‘something we stock’ with the pencil abbreviation for hard being inserted.

15a Song singer initially released gets award (4)
PALM: a religious song without the initial letter of singer.

16a Judicial group acknowledge point of survey (9)
BENCHMARK: charade of a word for judges as a group and a verb to acknowledge or celebrate. The answer is an incision used as a reference point by surveyors.

21a Celebrations not beginning, sadly (4)
ALAS: celebrations without their first letter.

22a Lots of people, tense, gripped by grisly spooky tale (5,5)
GHOST STORY: a word for lots of people and the abbreviation for tense in grammar are contained in an adjective meaning grisly or bloody.

24a Nothing in hair right for complainant (6)
MOANER: insert the letter that resembles nothing into an animal’s hair and finish with the abbreviation for right.

25a Showed shame while walking over a doctor to achieve success (4,4)
SLAM DUNK: a verb meaning ‘walked in a furtive manner’ contains A and one of our many 2-letter abbreviations for doctor.

27a Small space for leading Conservative in opportunity to improve (7)
ENHANCE: start with a synonym of opportunity and replace the abbreviation for Conservative at its start with a small printer’s space.

28a Ditching American in accord about temperature? That’s welcome (8)
GREETING: start with a present participle meaning ‘in accord’, drop the abbreviation for American and include the abbreviation for temperature.

29a Primarily like a song recalled with mostly rich content? (7)
LYRICAL: the first letter of like and the reversal (recalled – again) of a literary song contain 75% of the word rich.

Down Clues

2d Prophetic sybil ultimately avoiding jesting about artist (8)
ORACULAR: I’m assuming (I may well be wrong) that jesting is ‘jocular’ and we have to include our usual artist and somehow remove the first letter. I cannot see what in the clue tells us to remove the J. Over to you …
Revised clue: Prophetic judge primarily avoiding jesting about artist (8)
It’s the first letter of judge that has to be removed from ‘jocular’ with our usual artist being inserted.

3d Body part shown by British runner coming from going uphill (8)
FORELIMB: string together an abbreviation for British, a middle-distance runner and a preposition meaning ‘coming from’ then reverse the lot.

4d They advise you against swapping iodine for nitrogen in explosion (5,5)
AGONY AUNTS: an anagram (in explosion) of YOU AGAINST after you’ve swapped the chemical symbol for iodine for that of nitrogen.

5d Priest, Greek character religious graduate ignored (4)
LAMA: remove the letters signifying a degree in divinity from a Greek letter.

6d Hot lust, perhaps, provided upsetting conclusion (6)
FINISH: glue together the tap abbreviation for hot, what lust is an example of and a conjunction meaning provided. Now turn it upside down.

7d The least you could expect — silence in one minute? Just the reverse (7)
MINIMUM: string together a request for silence, IN, the Roman numeral for one and the abbreviation for minute. Reverse it all.

8d American audacity securing elevated target in response to tragedy? (7)
SADNESS: an informal American word for audacity or impudence contains the reversal of a target.

11d Tar assigned to rear of deck produces instrument (9)
PITCHFORK: a word for tar (the stuff that’s melting on the roads around here at the moment), a preposition meaning ‘assigned to’ and the rear letter of deck. I presume that the answer is used for tuning rather than tossing hay.

14d Studied about my single year to get cash (5,5)
READY MONEY: assemble a verb meaning studied at university, the reversal of MY, a word meaning single and the abbreviation for year.

17d Goddess embracing limitless Sahara; a vast desert region (8)
KALAHARI: a Hindu goddess contains the inner letters of Sahara.

18d Spanish city almost entirely enclosed in Latin road (8)
VALENCIA: a word meaning entirely without its last letter and the abbreviation for enclosed go inside the Latin word for road.

19d Middle-class novel a good laugh, with a degree of reflection? (3,4)
AGA SAGA: stick together A and an informal word for a good laugh or an amusing situation. Now add the reversal of most of what you already have.

20d Adored absorbing Neruda; extremely gifted (7)
DONATED: a verb meaning adored contains the outer letters of Neruda.

23d The present cut ends in worst outcome till now (2,4)
TO DATE: a word for the present (as opposed to the past or the future) loses its last letter and that’s followed by the end letters of worst outcome.

26d Characters aboard train in Euston Square (4)
NINE: hidden in the clue.

My favourite clue was 19d. Which one(s) made the grade for you?

30 comments on “Toughie 2903
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  1. Oops – Not 3d but 2d….I get JOCULAR losing J and inserting RA (artist) to give ORACULAR but I can’t see how ‘Sybil ultimately’ indicates ‘J’, so I’m none the wiser – sorry!

    1. Jesting is jocular.
      Sybils were Greek oracles. Judges might be more user-friendly but this is a Toughie!!
      Hence remove the J from jocular and add the standard abbreviation for ‘artist’.
      Prophetic is the definition.

      Rubbish clue, though 🤪

  2. I found this as tricky and not very interesting as the cryptic was quick and enjoyably fun

    I too have no idea about 2d so hopefully someone will put us out of our misery soon

    Thanks to Kcit and Gazza

  3. I too puzzled over 2d but haven’t a clue how to account for the missing J. Of all things, it was 19d that held me up the longest (I tried ‘age saga’ & ‘ego saga’, to no avail of course because I keep forgetting about those stoves that we do not have in this benighted country, and I am a fan of the solution, by the way–contrary to Ms Trollope’s demurrals about the phrase). If I could write my comment ‘ni esrever’, I’d come close to capturing the dominant mode of this very enjoyable Toughie. Like Gazza, I’m opting for 19d as my favourite. Thanks to him and to Kcit.

  4. Yep – me too. No idea about the Sybil in 2d. Somebody should explain [or fess up], There also seems to be a superfluous indefinite article in 29a. I loved 4d and also 10a once I’d remembered that “precisely’ had already appeared this week [or was it Sunday].
    Thanks to kciT and to Gazza for the blog.

  5. Found this an uphill struggle from the off but lacking the energy to do owt else in this heat so returned to it a few times in between pottering about. Surprised to get within 2 letters of a 6d – missing the first & last of 10a having stuck my expert in but can’t for the life of me figure out what they are. Didn’t know until now that 11a had anything to do with the ear & wasn’t familiar with the goddess at 17d either. 13a&19d my jt favs.
    Thanks to Kcit & Gazza whose review I’ll read once my patience runs out with 10a.

    1. Soon as I saw Halcyon’s comment the penny instantly dropped. Not the most obvious key support to spring to mind.

  6. Well, that was a bit of a curate’s egg. I filled it in at a steady rate of knots while eating lunch but was stumped by 2d. On waking from my siesta, the solution still eluded me and I now see the clue has been changed online. Does nobody check puzzles before publication?

    1. In fairness, those who check the puzzles are as human and therefore fallible as the rest of us. It doesn’t happen very often and is usually corrected ASAP.

  7. Must admit to getting somewhat light-headed with all the reversals required in this one – I suppose our setter’s pseudonym says it all.
    Took me a while to reach the finish line and I was grateful for the late alteration to the clue for 2d which had just been a ‘bung in’.
    6d took the gold here.

    Thanks to Kcit and to our lovely Gazza for the review. Always enjoy your illustrations but have tried very unsuccessfully to enlarge the one for 4d in order to read it properly. Some of those letters were absolute classics!

      1. It’s simple. Just put 2 fingers on the illustration and pull them apart. This enlarges it just as one does to make the print in the blog easier to read.

    1. to enlarge 4d image, right click on the image and select view image in new tab assuming your’e using a windows pc.

      1. Thank you, yellowwolf, I think it’s my refusal to change over to a new browser that causes most of my problems. Some of us are simply not IT friendly! By the way – how did you arrive at your pseudonym?

  8. Gave up on this this morning so am checking it over a glass of Famous Grouse. I’m glad I didn’t persevere as I really do not like it. For instance, does anyone use 3d in conversation? I obviously do not have a COTD but I do find 9a an attractive word.

  9. I don’t know if Kcit particularly favours reversals, but you might be forgiven for thinking so after tackling this one. I found it okay as a puzzle in fact, but having goofs in, like the one we have, or had, at 2 Down, tends to preclude a truly fair analysis (in my case at any rate: let me not drag anyone else into this). Skewed, was my own appreciation, but **/** really. Back-pager was all right though, so no real complaints. Tx Kcit and Gazza.

  10. While it doesn’t excuse my oversight, I can see that the proof for this arrived directly alongside one for another outlet that was both more urgent and more messed-up. But the error was there, and the change that occasioned it identified for me to comment on…which I didn’t. Apologies.
    I never have any idea why a particular type of clue dominates – my aim is always to find the best clue for the word in front of me at the time I’m writing it. The overall mix of clues rarely registers when I solve – it takes something like (and this is a real example) the first four clues solved all being of the hidden variety for me to notice.

  11. So that’s why we couldn’t get 2d to work.
    Quite a slow solve for us but did get there in the end.
    Pleasant solve.
    Thanks Kcit and Gazza.

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