Toughie 2915 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2915

Toughie No 2915 by Artix

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Phew – this is a Toughie and no mistake. Many thanks to Artix for the strenuous and enjoyable workout.

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

Across Clues

1a Try pharmacists when suffering hangover inevitably following this? (9,5)
CHRISTMAS PARTY: an anagram (when suffering) of TRY PHARMACISTS. It’s only the first of September – isn’t this a bit early?

9a Subtle letter from Makarios our church also embraces (7)
NUANCED: Archbishop Makarios was a Greek Cypriot – start with one of the letters he’d have used and add the abbreviation for the established church in England embraced by a conjunction meaning also.

10a The worst and best of Heston? (3,4)
PIT STOP: stick together an informal word for the worst (4) and an adjective meaning best to get an informal way of referring to a brief rest on a journey, possibly at a Motorway service station.

11a Weakens  lines of defence (4)
SAPS: double definition, the second being trenches on a battlefield.

12a Who’s physical defect, a valet and primarily golden accessory? (10)
SCARAMANGA: the whole clue identifies a Bond villain. Assemble a physical defect, A, another word for a valet and the primary letters of golden accessory.

14a Glow enveloping half of rosy start to day (6)
AURORA: a synonym for a glow contains half of the word ‘rosy’.

15a Second sleeve to protect key plant (8)
SALTBUSH: the abbreviation for second and a sleeve that protects an electric cable containing a key on your keyboard.

17a Is losing head in markets for equity (8)
FAIRNESS: Is here is the plural of a Roman numeral. Drop the first letter and insert what remains inside another word for markets as a noun.

18a Fix code of network — one that’s scalable? (6)
MENDIP: join a verb to fix and a code used to identify computers on a network to get a hill in an English range.

21a Foodies writing programs about non-vintage red that was terrible (3,7)
BON VIVANTS: small autonomous programs contain the abbreviation for non-vintage and the name of a 16th century tsar known as the Terrible. Neither the BRB nor Collins has the required abbreviation and I’m not convinced that ‘red’ can be used for a Russian of pre-Soviet times.

22a Turf accountant’s first drink (4)
SODA: a word for a piece of turf and the first letter of accountant.

24a One hears you hit pauper’s sole possession (3-4)
EWE-LAMB: stick together homophones of ‘you’ and a verb to hit. The definition relates to a New Testament parable.

25a Club on the road returns gear for City (7)
CARDIFF: Reverse a UK motorists’ club and add (I think) an abbreviation for different with one of the informal meanings of gear being ‘up to date’. I’m not convinced I’ve got this last bit right so any help from someone with a better knowledge of modern slang would be welcome. Thanks to halcyon for the information that the last four letters stand for differential (a type of gear).

26a Might this supply “A1 new” fish knife material? (9,5)
STAINLESS STEEL: what remains after you’ve applied letters 1-2 and 6-9 of your answer to your answer is AI, N(ew) and a type of fish.

Down Clues

1d Game tennis star loses 6-7 after speed of light ace (7)
CANASTA: knit together the symbol for the speed of light, the abbreviation for ace in card games and the name of an old tennis player known for his tantrums without characters 6-7 of his name.

2d Ravel opera with prominent tango as result of new arrangement (15)
REAPPORTIONMENT: make an anagram (ravel) of OPERA PROMINENT and finish with the letter that tango represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

3d Rifle  bag (4)
SACK: double definition, the first a verb and the second a noun.

4d They were in charge of Florence Nightingale’s case, dropping off supplies to hospital (6)
MEDICI: remove the outer letters of Nightingale from a word for what’s supplied to (and by) hospitals to get the name of a powerful ruling family in Florence.

5d DC’s administrator of justice fixing up America for every individual? (8)
SUPERMAN: the character dishing out justice in DC Comics comes from splicing together the reversal of an abbreviation for America, a preposition meaning ‘for each’ and a male individual.

6d Number one of all books I import is “Discovery” by Dirac (10)
ANTIMATTER: combine the first letter of all, some Biblical books, I and a synonym of import or significance. This was ‘discovered’ by Paul Dirac.

7d Pigment which blends Inuit mat colour, say, on type of leather that’s not hard (8,7)
TITANIUM DIOXIDE: start with an anagram (blends) of INUIT MAT and add what sounds like a verb to colour and a type of leather without the abbreviation for hard.

8d Place in frame a little 22, perhaps (6)
SPLASH: insert the street name abbreviation for Place into a type of frame.

13d Paganini’s intoxicated by French perfume (10)
FRANGIPANI: add an anagram (intoxicated) of PAGANINI to the abbreviation for French.

16d Retrain foremost three quarters of 15 in metropolis (8)
ISTANBUL: an anagram (retrain) of the first 6 letters of 15a and IN.

17d Essentially, oafish cabbie and fierce bouncer (6)
FIBBER: the central letters from three words in the clue. The answer (new for me) is the final meaning of bouncer in the BRB.

19d “Returns Only” … “Must End Shortly” (just kidding) (7)
PLAYFUL: a notice of ‘Returns Only’ outside a theatre indicates **** ****. Drop the last letter (must end shortly).

20d Footsie was a public disgrace! (6)
STOCKS: double definition, Footsie being an informal term for the FTSE Index of shares on the London Stock Market.

23d Matchmaker pairs off older Romeos in the end (4)
EROS: extract pairs of letters from the ends of older Romeos.

Top clues for me were 10a, 12a, 22a and 19d. Which one(s) made the grade for you?

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20 comments on “Toughie 2915
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  1. One of those days when I was really really glad that I didn’t have to blog the Toughie. A proper beast of a crossword where it took me a long time to parse some of the clues, I’m looking at you 17a, 26a and 19d.

    Thanks to Artix for a proper brain-stretching and even more thanks to Gazza for the blog

  2. Above my pay grade as another commenter used to say quite frequently.
    5d was amusing.
    I could solve only 15 of the clues so not too pleased with myself.
    Thanks to all concerned.

  3. Phew indeed – what a stinker. Some lovely, inventive clues, even tho I couldn’t parse all of them [thanks Gazza – btw I think in 25a diff means differential = gear [box]. Re 21a – I agree that, technically a pre-soviet Russian can’t be a red but we know what he means. Re 2d, sad crossword addict that I am I’ve waited 15 years at least for somebody else to use Ravel as an anagram indicator
    Ravel -‘I’m seen as a different composer’ [8] .
    Clues of the day – 21a [despite the red] and 4d.

    Thanks to Artix and Gazza for the blog.

    1. Thanks, halcyon. Neither Chambers nor Collins have diff meaning differential but your explanation makes a lot more sense than my poor attempt to find modern slang meanings. I’ll update the hint.

      1. I’ve never been a petrol-head but have pals who are and I’m pretty certain there’s something called a “diff lock” that probably does something important.

  4. I stared at this for nearly 15 minutes without solving a single clue before 1a finally fell, and at last I found myself getting vaguely near Artix’s wavelength. I do rather feel as though I’ve just gone back to school having completed the puzzle, with 11a,15a, 24a, 6d (my Physics ended at O-Level: had never heard of Dirac) and 17d each in some way being new to me. Thank heavens for the BRB and Google.

    I don’t think 21a works properly, for the reason Gazza notes. The abbreviation of differential is standard usage (even if it’s not in the BRB) – especially if you have a 4-wheel drive with diff-lock. Without that function this time last year I should have needed a tractor to extract me, my car and the trailer!

    Podium shared by 12a and 5d

    5* / 4* (I say 5* for difficulty, and it was very tough indeed, but it felt more straightforward than an average 5* Elgar: I need to finetune my scale!)

    Many thanks to Artix and to Gazza – I am constantly impressed at your ability to parse the most convoluted Toughie clues!

  5. Well this was equivalent to a FridayToughie and it took a combined effort with Mrs B to complete the solve.
    Has to be a ****/**** at least.
    Last in was 24a and a new biblical term for me.
    Helped being a chemist for 6 and 7d.
    5d made me smile,remembered the initial comics not the district of coloumbia or washington!
    Liked 12a and Favourite was 1d-took a while to parse.
    Thanks to setter and Gazza-ready for a well earned beer.

  6. So difficult. This became one of my “read and writes”. I’ve just enjoyed myself reading the blog and looking at the answers. How anyone solved and parsed this leaves me overcome with admiration. If this is Thursday, whatever will tomorrow bring?

  7. Bunged in Bon Viveurs [ instead of Vivants ] at21a which screwed up 16 and 20d . How anyone gets 25a is beyond me .
    So tough , feel quite proud to be only 6 short ; a lot of good clues though, 10a the best !

  8. As the proud owner of a Defender I know all about diffs but requuired hints to parse several others. Agree with the stinker rating. Thanks to Artix and Gazza.

  9. Well it started off tough but OK … then got seriously tough. Finally needed Gazza to unravel a couple (thank you!) including 19d which I think is fabulous. The “diff” also threw me, but seems fair enough. Both “non-vintage” and the non-red red seem like mistakes, though – a bit of a shame in an otherwise fantastic (and fantastically tricky) puzzle. Many thanks to Gazza and Artix.

  10. Quite surprised I fared as well as I did, though of course I did not finish even after using my 5-letter-reveal gift, but I did enjoy this stinker as far as I got. So thanks to Gazza for filling in my gaps and parsing the few I’ve stuttered over. And thanks too to Artix.

  11. Beyond my ken today. I got 4.

    I thought I was on to a winner after getting 1a with relative ease. Trying the down clues it gave me starters for and only getting 5d made me think it might be tough. Going through everything twice, I realised it was definitely too much for me.

    I teach Physics and spent a while trying to fit “Paul” into any word that might fit for 6d, having totally failed to parse the clue.

    As others have said, a pleasure to be had in reading the hints (thanks Gazza) and much admiration for those who finished (unaided or not).

  12. Wow. That was a snorter. Finished it after a lot of head scratching, then I went back to parse several clues. Eventually got there apart from 26ac which I had to resort to Gazza to understand. It took me 5 minutes to understand the hint so I’m not surprised I couldn’t parse it.

  13. Thought I’d have a quick look at this before bed. It’s an early start tomorrow so I’ll declare at 11 answers in. May return to it but looks way above my pay grade. Liked 1a surface.
    Ta all.

  14. I got there eventually, although it’s nearly 1.00.a.m. but I can’t remember a Toughie with so many clues I couldn’t parse, so I was really grateful
    to Gazza for his explanations of what I’d assumed must be the answers. I liked 10a, 9a and 20d, and wish I’d worked out the clever 19d, but it was too subtle for me. When Artix is in this frame of mind his puzzles should really appear on Fridays, I think. Thanks anyway, Artix, but anyone who couldn’t complete this shouldn’t feel too downhearted as this was certainly as tough as they get.

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