Toughie 2916 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2916

Toughie No 2916 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Sparks often has a Nina or gimmick, but I haven’t seen anything yet – maybe one of you will

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Dry obit amuses fans (10)
ABSTEMIOUS: An anagram (fans) of OBIT AMUSES

9a    Fence non-British fighter (4)
OXER: A fighter like Ali without the initial abbreviation for British (non-British)

10a    Sub-24-hour case completely obvious when one’s arrested (10)
OUTPATIENT: A 3-letter word that can mean completely (definition 34 in Chambers), then a word meaning obvious that contains (when …’s arrested) the Roman numeral for one

11a    Perhaps Edinburgh University Press called by Thursday (6)
THRANG: A word meaning called on the phone follows (by) a 2-letter abbreviation for Thursday gives a Scottish word (perhaps Edinburgh University) for press

12a    Bury hosting guide on vacation number two? (7)
INTEGER: A word meaning to bury contains G(uid)E from the clue with the inner letters removed (on vacation)

15a    Nick‘s Kindle found in Turkey (7)
TROUSER: The IVR for Turkey contains a verb meaning to kindle or fire up

16a    Bash one side of elbow in fighting arenas (5)
DOJOS: A 2-letter bash or function, then I think this is the first half (one side of) a verb meaning to elbow (e.g., for position)

17a    Jazz fan banned from Mexican state capital (4)
YUAN: A 3-leterr jazz fan is removed (banned) from a 7-letter Mexican state popular for beaches and Mayan ruins

18a    Queen of Carthage arguably lazed? (4)
DIDO: Split (3,1), the answer would appear to mean ‘carried out nothing’

19a    What, in court, recalled convalescence? (5)
REHAB: A 2-letter interjection meaning “what?” goes inside a reversal (recalled) of a legal court

21a    Tidy after uniform’s put away? Not yet (7)
UNEATEN: A verb meaning to tidy follows the letter with radio code uniform

22a    Hacks New Orleans in, say, Mardi Gras’ finale (7)
JOURNOS: The abbreviation for New Orleans goes in between a French word for which Mardi is an example (say) and the last letter (finale) of Gras

24a    Appreciation shown by international instructor in 16 (6)
SENSEI: A 5-letter word that can mean understanding or appreciation (definition 9 in Chambers) plus the abbreviation for international

27a    Stomach problem? (5,2,3)
SWEAT IT OUT: A cryptic definition; to arrive at the answer read the clue as verbal instead of nounal

28a    Show behind time, one leaving agitation (4)
MOON: The abbreviation for time and the Roman numeral for one are removed from (leaving) a 6-letter word meaning agitation

29a    Helping to secure backed-up sled order (10)
REGULATION: A 6-letter word for helping or portion contains the reversal (backed-up) of a type of sled


2d    Livid Tory (4)
BLUE: Two additional meanings for a colour

3d    Booze upset half of folk (6)
TIPPLE: A 3-leter verb meaning to upset plus the second half of a 6-letter word for folk

4d    Suited with tie and, primarily, evening dress (7)
MATCHED: A tie (as in sports event) plus the first letters (primarily) of the last 2 words

5d    Carry out robbery in prime locations? (4)
OBEY: The 2nd,3rd,5th,and 7th letters (prime locations) in ‘robbery’

6d    Son, ignoring fine, restrains dogs (7)
SETTERS: The abbreviation for son, then a 7-letter word for restrains without (ignoring) the initial abbreviation for fine

7d    Former hospital north of state capital tackling oxygen fatigue (10)
EXHAUSTION: A short word meaning former, abbreviation for hospital, then a state capital in USA containing (tackling) the chemical symbol for oxygen

8d    Sociable guy at first argues about investing old capital (10)
GREGARIOUS: The first letter of guy, then an anagram (about) of ARGUES contains (investing) a large city that was once a capital until a new capital was built around 1960

12d    One famous key suspect in compiler’s book? (2,3,3,2)
IF YOU ASK ME: The Roman numeral for one, then an anagram (suspect) of FAMOUS KEY. The answer offers the opinion of the compiler.

13d    Advance, say, bombed nation rued (5,5)
TRADE UNION: An anagram (bombed) of NATION RUED

14d    Rake new riverside port (5)
ROUEN: A rake or cad plus the abbreviation for new gives a French port

15d    Fine wearing crown in wine region (5)
TOKAJ: A 2-letter word meaning fine is contained in a word meaning crown

19d    One might amend section of flight around outskirts of Venice when heading north (7)
REVISER: A piece of a staircase contains (around) the reversal (when heading north) of the outer letters (outskirts) of Venice

20d    Labour uprising crushing most unpleasant polled assembly of Young Cons? (7)
BORSTAL: The reversal (uprising) of a 3-letter abbreviation for Labour contains (crushing) a 5-letter word meaning most unpleasant but without the initial letter (polled). Ah, that kind of Cons!

23d    Knocking sound due to rising oil temperature (3-3)
RAT-TAT: A reversal (rising) of an essential oil, then the abbreviation for temperature

25d    Ascending bird almost finding polar feature (4)
BERG: The reversal (ascending) of a 5-letter bird without its last letter (almost)

26d    Picked up Cockney who is getting over drink (4)
OUZO: A homophone (picked up) of an unaspirated (Cockney) version of “who is” plus the abbreviation for over

I particularly liked the misleading “number two” (12a), Nick’s Kindle (15a), and the compiler’s book (15d). Which were your favourite clues?

24 comments on “Toughie 2916

  1. At least part of the toughness of this is attributable to the obscurities, of which 11a takes the biscuit. But there were some nice clues, of which my favourites are 22a and 28a.

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch. [26d needs masking].

  2. Excellent puzzle. Fell at the last having Yucatan in mind but not finding the cat – Nice! Thanks to Sparks and Dutch

  3. Really enjoyable and surprisingly swfit (for me!) lunchtime challenge – really did not expect to have a completed grid at this point in the day, so many thanks to Sparks for a great puzzle. Lots of smiles as answers suddenly dawned, from 20d (COTD) to 15a, 19a and 11a. The dialect in 2d was entirely new to me. I’ve sat at enough 9a’s as a fence judge to have kicked myself for taking so long to see it today.

    3.5* / 4.5*

    Many thanks also to Dutch – one of the very few times I have not needed your clues to parse any of my answers.

  4. She’s got it, by George she’s got it! Had to refer to the BRB for a couple of the ‘J’ words but otherwise worked it all out by my own self.
    I was so hoping that our blogger would place it into his 5* category for difficulty but I was forgetting that he sails through Elgar’s challenges on a regular basis.
    Not sure what to nominate as favourite, too busy feeling proud of myself!

    Thanks to Sparks for the considerable challenge (say hi to Sparky for me) and thanks to Dutch for all the confirmations on the parsing front.

  5. This seems to be a ‘Q’ less pangram. Three words I hadn’t heard of, but they were all gettable. 17a and 22a my favourites.
    Thanks Dutch and Sparks

  6. I came up short on a few and having consulted the hints I realise that I was wise to concede and spend the time improving my GK. Some clever clues but not my favourite puzzle this week. Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

      1. I only found out that one courtesy of Mr G – never heard of it but had guessed the answer from the anagram fodder and checkers.

  7. Good fun as ever from Sparks with a sprinkling of obscurities and a couple of mathematical suggestions to keep it very interesting. I think 20d takes my top spot. Many thanks to him and to Dutch.

  8. Best puzzle by far of the week for me. Needed some electronic help and some of Dutch’s hints and parsing assistance. Congratulations to those who finished all on your own! I think that all of the 4-letter clues are my collective favourites. A good bit of GK I can never know, of course, being stuck over here in The Colonies, but it’s fun to learn some new things even at this age. Thanks to the remarkable Dutch and Sparks.

  9. Took us ages to twig how 5d worked. Perhaps our events of the week have taken a little edge off our acuity.
    An enjoyable solve with a couple of things (eg 13d) that we had to check.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  10. Another day, another DNF in the Toughie. Better than yesterday’s 4, I got a bit over halfway. A 4*/4* as I enjoyed what I did.

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

    Favourite of those I got was 12d. Of those I didn’t, 5d.

    1. Quite a few 3d tipples here. I did spot Blue Nun down in col 2 along with ouzo and tokaj we have a less than 1a abstemious puzzle, but hardly a theme.

  11. Thank you Dutch for your usual excellent blog, and to all for the overwhelmingly positive comments.

    I forgot that this puzzle came out on Friday, and I’m just popping in to report that there is a whopping-great Nina; one that binds most of the puzzle together. All eight of the (longest) 10-letter answers are ‘supervocalic’, in that each contains exactly one occurrence of A, E, I, O and U.

    [Thanks Jane: Sparky is still soldiering on and just did a huge (for him) coastal walk in torrential rain, so is now cuddled in a ball on Mrs Sparks’ lap.]

    1. Life in the old dog yet, isn’t that wonderful! Made me smile that he views your other half’s lap as the best place to sleep off the exertions.
      Don’t think I’d ever have spotted the Nina but thank you for putting a lot of us out of our misery!

      1. Hi Jane … here’s my little old mucker sampling the delights of 35mph winds in Orkney. That’s what’s holding his little ears aloft :D :)

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