Toughie No 2937 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 2937

Toughie No 2937 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by StephenL

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

Hello everyone from a beautifully sunny South Devon where we seem to be enjoying a bit of an Indian Summer. Long may it continue, it’s certainly extending my sea swimming year.

Donnybrook kicks off the Toughie week with a puzzle that was typically quirky and as usual with this setter, a lot of fun, giving me a couple of real LOL moments.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.


Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Gulag has thirty guards filled with terror (6)
AGHAST: Hidden in the clue (guards)

4a Analysis of rhythm in second musical round is revolutionary (8)
SCANSION: The abbreviation for Second and a compositional music technique into which is inserted a reversal (revolutionary) of IS from the clue.

10a Dives right in with mog chasing animated mutt? (9)
PLUTOCRAT:  Append a mog(gy) into which is inserted the abbreviation for Right, to a Disney cartoon dog, giving someone who obtains power through wealth. Definitely one to get from checkers and wordplay rather than the definition!

11a Water coming down on good farm crop (5)
GRAIN: The abbreviation for Good us followed by some water “coming down” from the sky.

12a & 6 Down Its wheels fit — thinking that regularly makes work? (7,5)
TWELFTH: For this and 6d take the regular or alternate letters from the first five words of the clue, giving a works of Shakespeare. Very clever.

13a East German prosperous one unable to face truth (7)
OSTRICH: The German word for East is followed by a synonym of prosperous or well-off.

14a On the counter, a cook’s last supplies of meat that’s marinated (5)
TIKKA: Start with A from the clue, add the final letter of cooK and some (military say) supplies. Reverse the result (on the counter)

15a Worthy Scottish town given mention (8)
STERLING: This synonym of worthy sounds like (given mention) a Scottish town 26 miles to the east of Glasgow.

18a Division in corporation to receive one billion for old land (8)
HIBERNIA: Insert the letter that looks like the number one and the abbreviation for Billion into a “division in corporation”, the corporation being a (distended) tummy! Brilliant clue.

20a Starter for ten coming into 12 is unacceptable (3,2)
NOT ON: Insert the initial letter of Ten into the time of day that twelve represents.

23a Gear soldiers packed in dismay (7)
APPAREL: Another insertion, this time the abbreviation for Royal Engineers inside a synonym of dismay as a verb

25a Double spread turned into substantial publication (7)
TWOSOME:. Reverse (turned) a synonym of spread as a verb (as one might some seeds) and insert the result into a lengthy or heavy publication

26a 12 6 character abused wants old rocker thrown out (5)
VIOLA: A synonym of abused loses an abbreviated fifties (I think!) rocker.

27a Brother to 26 stirred beans, adding in wine (9)
SEBASTIAN: Insert one of crosswordland’s favourite (Italian sparkling) wines into an anagram (stirred) of beans.

28a Muscle in on government’s watch (8)
SPECTATE: Insert a chest muscle, much loved by bodybuilders into a synonym of government or administration.

29a Mountain storm curtailed in former province (6)
BENGAL: The first name of a Scottish mountain and a storm with its final letter removed.


1d Primate harbouring little lust? (8)
APPETITE: A three letter primate goes around (harbouring) a synonym of small or slender.

2d Long mail I see written up by upper-class idiot (7)
HAUBERK: Start with a reversal (written up) of an exclamation that could mean “I see”. Add the letter representing upper-class and a dated synonym of idiot or fool, giving a full length coat of chain mail. Tenuous link but I like this.

3d One easily upset, female stops bird getting eaten by reptile (9)
SNOWFLAKE: Insert the abbreviation for Female into (stops) a “wise” bird and Insert the result into a very unappealing reptile.

5d Renovated Art Deco adorns hotel — beauty represented in set piece (7-3,4)
CATHODE-RAY TUBE: Anagram (renovated) of ART DECO, and the abbreviation for Hotel plus an anagram (represented) of BEAUTY.

6d See 12a
NIGHT: See hint at 12a

7d Garibaldi perhaps secure at island in revolution (7)
ITALIAN: Start with a synonym of secure as a verb, add AT from the clue and the abbreviation for Island. Reverse the lot (in revolution)

8d Intervals at home: time to visit our doctors and nurses? (6)
NINTHS: Start with the usual 2-letter word meaning at home. Add the abbreviation for Time and insert the result (to visit) into the body for which the vast majority of doctors and nurses work.

9d Two composers slaughtered? (6,3,5)
BRAHMS AND LISZT: The slaughtered here is “drunk” or another word, for which the solution is Cockney rhyming slang.

16d Spiny lobster, tuna and sole? Finally choosing flounders! (9)
LANGOUSTE: A clever anagram (flounders) of TUNA, SOLE and the final letter of choosinG.

17d Wicked inside where tango gives way to foxtrot (8)
INFERNAL: A synonym of inside loses the letter for Tango in the NATO phonetic alphabet for that of Foxtrot.

19d Cave in Spain is base for one male tramp (7)
IMPLODE: The IVR code for Spain is below (base for in a down clue) the letter that looks like the number one, the abbreviation for Male and a synonym of tramp as a verb.

21d Showing impatience as cabbie might in London district? (7)
TOOTING: A mildly cryptic definition, how a cabbie may express impatience is also a district of London.

22d No Scots against us? Here’s red mole! (6)
NAEVUS: Start with how a Scotsman may say “no”. Add the abbreviation for Versus (against) and US from the clue. Another one from wordplay and checkers!

24d Respond disapprovingly in connection with law passed (5)
REACT: The usual preposition meaning in connection with and a parliamentary law.

Great stuff, my winners are 2&3d with top spot going to 18a.

I hope the setter calls in as I know he’ll appreciate the drumming by the late great Keith Moon in this Who classic.

24 comments on “Toughie No 2937
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  1. I found this enjoyable crossword a lot trickier than Stephen did, even though I did know about Dives in 10a and had no problem with 22d as I’ve got quite a few of them. My favourite was 13a because it made me smile

    Thanks very much to Donnybrook and Stephen

  2. Wonderful stuff. 12A 6D gets the laurels for me, but a raft of contenders: what a puzzle!

    Thanks to Donnybrook, and to StephenL for his excellent blog.

  3. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks to Donnybrook and StephenL.
    The 2d long mail was new to me. I had the misfortune to have 12/6 for a set book in English O-level.
    I liked the clever deceptive phrases – ‘division in corporation’ (18a), ‘set piece’ (5d) and ‘cave in’ (19d) but my favourite clue was 3d.

  4. I agree with CS. Stephen must be on the same wavelength as Donnybrook. I loved 12a and 6d
    I think Stephen has underlined the wrong part of the clue for 18a. Never mind. I got there in the end but I give it ****/****
    Thanks to Stephen and Donnybrook

  5. My joint favourites from this excellent Toughie were 3d and 18a, although they were merely the top of a long list. It took me two sittings either side of lunch to complete, so I was clearly not quite on the setter’s wavelength. Great fun.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and SL.

  6. Like CS, I found this much trickier than Stephen, but what a crackerjack of a Toughie. My knowledge of Dives is biblical (from Luke) and a bit surprised that ‘he’ is not cited in the hints, and I found 10a, 12a/6d, & 18a about as sublime–each in its own way–as clues can be. Like Gazza, 2d was new to me but easily attainable, and the particular use of 3d is also new to me, I think (but maybe not). Thoroughly enjoyable and as masterful as ever from Donnybrook, so many thanks to him and to Stephen for the excellent review.

  7. Found this much trickier than usual for NYDK, and rather less enjoyable despite the setter usually being one I look out for with anticipation – the strange surface reads of too many clues rather detracted from the puzzle, I felt. Minor gripes: 22d – why red? 26a – surely either ‘wants’ or ‘thrown out’ is superfluous in the clue? 24d – why disapprovingly?

    A good Thursday Toughie IMV! Many thanks to NYDK and SL.

    1. Mustafa
      Collins gives react as “to act in return/reciprocally or in opposition…though I did have the same thoughts
      In 26a read “wants” as needs (old rocker thrown out)

      a birthmark or a mole on the skin, especially a birthmark in the form of a raised red patch.

      1. Stephen – I’m unconvinced that either Collins or Chambers support an analogy of opposition with disapproval in this particular sense, but we’re unlikely to agree, and as I said, it’s only a minor gripe.

        Re 26a – you make my point for me: both ‘wants’ and ‘thrown out’ instruct the same thing: ‘abused’ lacks/wants old rocker; ‘abused’ old rocker thrown out.

        And oh, the irony … I had quite forgotten that ‘want’ is another word for ‘mole’ – albeit not of the naevus variety!

        1. You’re missing my point on 26a Mustafa. I see it as the synonym of abused with the rocker (Ted) needing/wanting to be thrown out.

  8. 4a, 10a, 2d and 22d were all new to me so I found this very difficult. On the plus side I managed to parse everything. Still happiness is a completed grid. Favourite was 9d. Thanks to Donnybrook and SL.

  9. Just popped in to see the parsing of 12/6d … A classic of the genre … brilliant.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and SL.

    Ps. If music be the food of love … Should have played “Wont Get Fooled Again”

      1. Have just listened to the album (high volume) for the first time in a while. Utterly brilliant – Behind Blue Eyes & Bargain my top two – love Pete’s vocal on the latter.

  10. A very good puzzle as usual with this setter , though one of his harder ones . Didn’t know 2d , had jerk for berk ! , or 22d , nay or nae could be answer.

  11. Just finished the toughie,enjoyed our setters amusing cluing ,liked 9d-thanks to SL for the pic! also the parsing of 8d.
    Must remember 3d which is not in my old chambers as a synonym.
    Favourite was 10a,reminded me of Disney.
    Going for a ***/****, just right for the Tuesday starter.

  12. We also found this much harder than today’s blogger is reporting and had us reaching for reference material on several occasions. Eventually got it all sorted.
    Thanks Donnybrook and SL.

  13. Well it’s a **** plus difficulty for me sadly. Eventually filled in the grid correctly but only with use of the reveal mistakes facility (2 corrections required en route) & I’m ashamed to say looking up the character list in Twelfth Night – never read it or seen it on stage & could only vaguely remember the plot from the Branagh film. 4a, 2d & 22d all new words to me requiring confirmation as did the context of dives. 18a my clear favourite (maybe edging Garfunkel in the running for COTW) among super clues – 3,5,9&19d big ticks for me.
    Thanks to Donny & Stephen.

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