Toughie 2909 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2909

Toughie No 2909 by Robyn

          Hints and tips by StephenL

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

Hello everyone from a cloudy South Devon. Robyn kicks off the Toughie week with a superb puzzle that wouldn’t have been out of place much later in the week. A couple of the parsings took me a while to see but provided great penny drop moments on arrival.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Cracking sham crime in case of embezzling (4-8)

CODE BREAKING: Start with a 3-letter word for sham then insert into the “case” of EmbezzlinG a crime (the police no longer bother to investigate) when enumerated 5-2

9a Cheers team in manoeuvre on ground (4)

TAXI: An informal way of saying cheers or thank you and a (football say) team in Roman numerals.

10a Cryptically suggest way of arriving at how to make a series (6,3)

DOCTOR WHO: To.crytically arrive at “how” one could make an anagram of “who”. We need an anagram indicator to precede it. Brilliant clue.

12a What’s odd in awful, barmy English lit (6)

AFLAME: The odd letters in AwFuL bArMy and the abbreviation for English.

13a Roughly going back and forth in naughty child’s game (8)

BACCARAT: A reversal of the abbreviation for CircA or roughly is followed by it written forwards and the result inserted into way of describing a naughty child.

15a Bottom pocket filled by flask (10)

NETHERMOST: A synonym of pocket as a verb goes around a type of flask.

16a Relative of Isaac Hayes, cutting grass, needing a uniform (4)

ESAU: Don’t bother googling Isaac Hayes!….the relative appears in the Hebrew Bible. Remove the grass from hayES and add A from the clue and the abbreviation for Uniform

18a Broadcaster pinching old American’s bum (4)

HOBO: An American pay television network goes around (pinching) the abbreviation for Old to give (appropriately!) an American term for a bum or down and out.

20a The thing was discovered by criminal? Drat! (8,2)

CONFOUND IT: Start with our usual 3-letter abbreviation for a criminal. Add a synonym of discovered or unearthed and a pronoun meaning “the thing”.

23a Clothing line with two jackets of gauze tailored (8)

NEGLIGEE: Anagram (tailored) of LINE and the outside letters of GauzE twice.

24a One swearing in audition shows on-screen presence (6)

CURSOR: A homophone (in audition) of someone who swears or blasphemes. The screen is that of a laptop for example.

26a Make issue for energy-guzzling old banger (9)

PROCREATE: Begin with a preposition meaning for or in favour of. Add a derogatory term for a rubbish car into which is inserted the abbreviation for Energy.

27a For Louis I, reversing sports car (4)

JEEP: The French (for Louis) word for I followed by a reversal of some Physical Exercise.

28a It’s engineered by breeding with a hint of selection? (8,4)

DESIGNER BABY: Anagram of (it’s engineered) BY BREEDING plus A and the initial letter of Selection for a quite brilliant &lit.


2d Where the clientele is high up and monied, possibly (5,3)

OPIUM DEN: Anagram (possibly) of UP and MONIED.

3d Spin from top Liberal Democrat denied welcome (4)

EDDY: Remove a literary word used to express greetings from the surname name of the current leader of the Lib Dems and append it to his first name.

4d Interrupted by pupils, barking fiery order again (10)

RECLASSIFY: Place an anagram (barking) of FIERY around a group of pupils.

5d Admit I’m in pain, following scripture (6)

AVOUCH: A cry of pain follows a two letter abbreviation for a publication of the bible, also known as The King James Version. Every day is a school day.

6d Divided as counties are away from the edge? (7)

INWARDS: Split the solution 2-5 to see the reference to the division of counties.

7d Grand entertainers including penniless royal — they may knock back spirits (12)

GHOSTBUSTERS: The abbreviation for Grand and some (party) entertainers into which is inserted an informal word for penniless and the royal cipher of our present monarch.

8d Could it be a diminutive actor’s role in the theatre? (6)

HAMLET: If we split the solution 3-3 we have a whimsical description of a small actor.

11d Eating outside a home, this is good for starters (9-3)

LAUNCHING PAD: A synonym of eating (a midday meal perhaps) is placed around A from the clue and followed by an old fashioned word for a home or flat.

14d OTT male, on top of fashion, seeing red coats (10)

IMMODERATE: Start with the abbreviation for Male, add a synonym of fashion in the sense of design and place a synonym of “seeing red” around (coats) the result.

17d Racket in house he endured with forbearance (3-2,3)

PUT-UP JOB: Start with a phrasal verb meaning house or accommodate and append a biblical figure, a would be leader for those who patiently endured.

19d Stud hugs mostly unappealing, weedy sort in bed (7)

BUGLOSS: A stud on an item of clothing goes around an adjective meaning unappealing after it loses its last letter

21d Old man penning adventure story made a career (6)

DASHED: An informal word for one’s father goes around (penning) a novel, subtitled “The history of adventure”.

22d Whence came crude cry for attention, rearing child (3,3)

OIL RIG: A 2-letter word used to get attention plus the reversal of a female child.

25d A stretch of Cherbourg rue? (4)

HERB: Hidden in the clue (a stretch of).

Thanks to Robyn for a great start to the Toughie week, my top three were 10&28a plus 2d.



22 comments on “Toughie 2909

  1. When I started solving this excellent Toughie, I was sure it was Tuesday, but by the time I’d finished, I decided this was definitely more of the type of Toughie we’d expect on a Thursday or even a Friday

    Thanks to Robyn for the super brain-stretching and to Stephen for the blog

  2. This is a top-notch puzzle which, as StephenL says, fully deserves to appear a couple of days later in the week. Many thanks to Robyn and StephenL.

    I bestowed ticks on 26a, 28a, 2d, 3d (a mite unfair on non-UK solvers?) and 8d but my favourite has to be the superb 10a.

  3. Tougher than some of the Sunday Toughies.
    I wouldn’t have solved 10a in a month of Sundays.
    I was absolutely delighted with myself when I finally solved 2d, 4d, and so on.
    20a and 28a vie for favourite clue.
    Thanks to StephenL and Robyn.

  4. I absolutely loved this. So many light bulb moments and smiles. Come again soon Robyn
    Many thanks to Robyn and to StephenL for parsing many bung ins

  5. Great puzzle and certainly tougher than most Tuesdays .
    I had bogmoss for 19d but without any idea why.
    Thanks to SL and to Robyn and to Tilsit for his remarks about site etiquette.

  6. Not having solved, or understood, one clue in the first read through, I’ve taken Tilsit’s advice and put it on one side for those cleverer than me to solve. I’ll now read the blog to see what I messed.

  7. I was mightily relieved to find that I was not alone in finding this a genuine mind-bending Toughie. It is hard to look beyond the quite brilliant 10a for a favourite clue, although 3d ran it close.

    My thanks and congratulations to Robyn for an outstanding puzzle, and to SL for deciphering the clues.

  8. Yes, tougher than the usual Tuesday but I’m never going to be one to complain about that. I think I’ll give 10 Across the laurels as I’m rather fond of that kind of cryptic hint. ****/***.

  9. Absolutely superb. Like others, I am relieved to learn that I was not alone in finding it significantly harder than usual for a Tuesday. Also, another vote for 10a as COTD.

  10. Normally my comments tend to be [ mildly ] critical , but I thought this puzzle was the best Toughie I’ve ever done . Fair clues , many extremely witty , testing without being impossible . Perfect . ***/*****

  11. At first go round I found this a very tricky one but eventually it all clicked into place. It was a pleasure to stretch the brain with this elegant puzzle.

  12. Never has a DNF felt so good! and when I saw the answer I had lots of PDM’s, a really enjoyable crossword so Thank You to Robyn and StephenL and as they used to say about the A&E channel in Canada it was time well spent.

  13. Without doubt a****/***** toughie , not quite Elgar but on first reading I only had one clue solved!
    Decided to combine with Mrs B as we wanted to go out before dark.
    Excellent diverse cluing throughout ,so difficult to decide on a favourite but really liked 10a and 16a for leading me up the garden path.
    Thanks to Robyn and SL for the pics-ready for a well earned pint.

  14. Agree with all comments above. Another vote for 10a as clue of day (week/year?) Many thanks to Robyn and SL

  15. Hmm, I decided to try and get back into more than just the Saturday prize crossword (where I compete with my sister). Having got through the usual cryptic ones yesterday and today (with some help from Mr Google understanding words I’d never heard of), I thought I’d move on to the toughie. It is the first of the week, how tough could it be? Thank goodness for the clues here as I would never have done half of it otherwise! Let’s see if I can do better on the morrow …

    1. Knowing the setters, I’ll wager that both tomorrow and Thursday will be less difficult than this. Friday is another matter altogether.

  16. Absolutely top-drawer. Brilliantly inventive cluing and PDMs everywhere in this challenging puzzle. Only had 2 answers on first pass but a second go later in the day provided a foothold and then gradual progress thereafter. Liked 10a but COTD for me was 13a.

    Thanks to Robyn for a fantastic and enjoyable challenge and to StephenL for unravelling a few bung-ins.

  17. We guessed 3d from the checkers and definition but had no idea how the wordplay worked. Not surprisingly as it turns out.
    Found the rest of it tough but enjoyable and satisfying.
    Thanks Robyn and SL.

  18. Sorry, not for me!! Three completed and although, looking at the blog, I can see how clever it is there was no real enjoyment for me today. Bit like an Elgar!! Tomorrow will hopefully be better and I’ll be able to get on the right wavelength.

  19. Very tough for me, indeed, but as others have said, this is an elegant, breathtakingly brilliant puzzle. I needed much help from Stephen with his hints and considerable help parsing. Time and energy ran out on me last night, but I did very much enjoy the challenge. 10 & 20a are my co-favourites. Many thanks to SL and Robyn.

  20. Certainly a Toughie more suited to later in the week, and it took me an unusually long time to get started. Much as I grumped at myself to start with as with furrowed brow I made no progress, when the answers did start to come it was as with the breaching of a dam. 10a & 20a share the podium for me.

    Many thanks to Robyn and to Stephen L

  21. I didn’t have as much of a problem with this as others seem to have done, but it was tough and was enjoyable. Interestingly the clue to 22d was also in the Times yesterday at 18d!
    Thanks all

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