Toughie 2939 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2939

Toughie No 2939 by Firefly
Hints and tips by Gazza

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

I found parts of this quite tricky (which I can’t blame entirely on the severe case of man flu that I’m currently suffering from) and I can’t fully understand 21a (so any suggestions there would be welcome). Thanks to Firefly.

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

Across Clues

7a Soccer’s “Fifth official”, say, brand-new — and he’s troublesome (7)
VARMINT: charade of the acronym for the technology-assisted and controversial fifth official in football and an adjective meaning brand-new. I remember this North American informal term for a troublesome wild animal or person from old Western films.

8a Robbery from post? (5-2)
STICK-UP: cryptically this could be a vertical post.

10a Essentially, director’s movie featuring Heather is a wrap (9)
CLINGFILM: the central letter of director and a synonym of movie contain a favourite type of heather in Crosswordland.

11a Somewhat misdescribe anodyne celebration (5)
BEANO: hidden in the clue.

12a Termination of painful menage a trois — nastier characters departing (5)
OMEGA: remove the letters of NASTIER from MENAGE A TROIS and make an anagram (painful) of what’s left over.

13a Girl briefly sat next to Jack for protection (9)
TARPAULIN: a girl’s name without its last letter follows what goes with Jack as a term for a sailor. I imagine that RD will be registering a complaint here.

15a If possible, put notion to partner with only one answer called for (7)
IDEALLY: stick together a notion or thought and a partner or supporter then remove one of the two abbreviations for answer at the centre of what you have.

17a Universities host band in holidays, being unoccupied (7)
VACUOUS: two occurrences of an abbreviation for university contain the letter that resembles a band or ring. Now put that inside an informal word for holidays.

18a Device placed on Spanish shore was very steep (4,1,4)
COST A BOMB: an incendiary device follows the Spanish word for shore.

20a Get lost among diggers, perhaps, with setter’s upper garments half destroyed (5)
IMSHI: the contracted form of ‘the setter is’ followed by the first half only of upper garments. The answer, derived from Arabic, is an instruction, often shouted at an importuning beggar, to get lost or go away. Collins says it’s Australian military slang (i.e. among Diggers) but it’s certainly used elsewhere as well.

21a Switch like this from left to right (2-3)
ON-OFF: I don’t understand ‘from left to right’ – I thought it might relate to sides of a cricket field but that only works for a batsman who is right-handed. Any better ideas? [Firefly has clarified his intention for this clue at comment #3].

23a Lover to ace airman marshalled … (9)
INAMORATA: an anagram (marshalled) of TO, the abbreviation for Ace and AIRMAN.

24a … support at Chamonix slope, with kit rejigged when temperature dropped (3,4)
SKI POLE: Chamonix is a Winter Sports Centre. We need an anagram (rejigged) of SLOPE KI[t] after the abbreviation for temperature is dropped.

25a Ripple of illegal activities gripping place (7)
CRIMPLE: a generic word for illegal activities contains the mapping abbreviation for place.

Down Clues

1d Riser bored mistakenly into old sewers (10)
BROIDERERS: an anagram (mistakenly) of RISER BORED gives us an archaic word for sewers (those using needles, not those carrying waste matter).

2d It increases potency by way of agar regularly added to start with (6)
VIAGRA: string together a preposition meaning ‘by way of’, regular letters of agar and the starting letter of ‘added’.

3d People dance here exclusively (8)
STRICTLY: the short name for the much-hyped TV show.

4d Sheathing of icebreaker incorporates a certain compound (6)
ISOMER: the outer letters of icebreaker contain a word meaning ‘a certain’.

5d White van caught carrying illicit blini not the last (3,5)
VIN BLANC:  VAN and the cricket abbreviation for caught contain an anagram (illicit) of BLIN[i] without its last letter.

6d Sounds like puncture for flier (4)
SKUA: this bird sounds (to some people, not to me) like a verb to puncture or pierce.

7d Plum’s over misfortune, gaining ultimate recognition (8,5)
VICTORIA CROSS: start with a delicious type of plum and add a misfortune or something that has to be borne.

9d Foretell crazy operating cost (13)
PROGNOSTICATE: an anagram (crazy) of OPERATING COST.

14d Sweeps last of junk up in mad hurry (4,6)
LOOK SNAPPY: append the last letter of junk to a verb meaning sweeps (like a film camera) then reverse that inside an informal adjective meaning mad or silly.

16d Get ahead having bound part of the hoof (8)
LEAPFROG: glue together a bound or jump and what the BRB tells me is ‘a V-shaped band of horn on the underside of a horse’s hoof’.

17d Atmosphere almost rendered cold with Disney’s latest animation (8)
VIBRANCY: assemble a word for atmosphere without its final E, a verb for which the BRB gives render as its 94th (approx.) meaning, the tap abbreviation for cold and the last letter of Disney.

19d Twist vivid gold as container (6)
OLIVER: a synonym of vivid is contained inside our usual tincture of gold.

20d Rich club in charge (6)
IRONIC: rich is being used informally here as in “That’s a bit rich”. A golf club is followed by the abbreviation for ‘in charge’.

22d The Listener’s in confusion, having no tea (4)
OTIC: start with an adjective meaning ‘in confusion’ and remove the informal word for tea from its beginning.

The clues getting ticks from me were 8a, 18a and 22d. Which one(s) made your podium?

19 comments on “Toughie 2939
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  1. Unlike our blogger, I sailed through this in very good time, only coming to a grinding halt over 20a, which, on reflection, is well clued, just an unusual and a new word to me. That apart, there were some excellent clues, among which was 18a, my favourite.

    Thanks to Firefly for the challenge, and Gazza.

  2. I think 21a is referring to cricket sides, albeit for a right-hander only. Can’t think of anything else.
    20a forced me to the hints, haven’t heard that word before. Otherwise an excellent accessible puzzle which a good struggle. 14d and 18a my favourites. Thanks Gazza for the hints, and Firefly for expanding my vocabulary.
    Glad to hear BD is home

    1. Whilst I was aware that ON/OFF could refer to cricket, I thought driving a car was a fairer example – where it doesnt matter what “handed” you are! Regards to all bloggers.

      1. I agree with offside when referring to cars, but its counterpart is nearside, ie nearest the kerb. Not heard of onside for automobiles, or maybe you mean something else?!

    2. Started with a flourish with 12a and that was that. Way above my pay grade.
      So, BD is home. Good so, what about Tilsit and his major surgery? I don’t like teasers! I just want to wish everyone well and return to my puzzle.

  3. 20a, 25a, 1d, 4d and 9d were all new words to me, so upping the difficulty level from hard to very hard. Hey ho I got there. Favourite was 10a. Thanks to Firefly and Gazza.

  4. I have to admit to some e-help with this and being happy to let Gazza nail the precise parsings of a couple (no doubt I’d have tried harder were it my blog!)
    Some clever stuff in there, my podium consists of 15&18a plus 14&20d.
    Many thanks to Firefly and Gazza, hope you feel better soon.

  5. Quite a tricky puzzle, assumed Id was an anagram of the first two words but failed to construct one-never mind.
    Had the correct definition for 25 across but could not verify it in my Chambers, 20a was new to me, I thought it was derived /used by austrailians-now I know a little more thanks to Gazza.
    Well clued throughout, favourite was 7d, 6d made me smile.

  6. Thanks to Gazza for hints to 20a and 22d, plus some e-help along the way, I now have a full grid for this very tough Toughie for me. I’ll piggyback on SL’s choices above. Believe it or not, I did enjoy the struggle, so thanks to Gazza and Firefly. Sorry about your man-flu, Gazza.

  7. Crikey & I thought Donny was tough on Tuesday. Used 3 letter checker reveals to eventually nearly grind out a finish but it was an uphill struggle from 15 answers in. Annoyingly didn’t peg the brand new in 7a or the exclusively in 3d until revealing the T & should have got both but reckon I could have been looking at 17a&d until Christmas without the aid of the V checker. 20a&d were my last 2 – the penny dropped re the correct context of rich but lost the will to live with the other, read the hint & then revealed the answer.
    Above my pay grade really & suppose I enjoyed the unequal struggle in a masochistic sort of way.
    Thanks to Firefly & to Gazza – hope that you’re feeling better soon.

  8. Not entirely sure how I felt about this puzzle, satisfying though it was to complete. Pauses of Pinteresque proportion, each followed by three or four answers, but absolutely an end-of-week Toughie for me. In 20a “among diggers” appeared superfluous to me, if not misleading: in the BRB it simply says “old military slang” (nothing about Oz), while elsewhere (not Collins) there are references to Arabic origins; 25a could have been little else but to me ripple doesn’t sit comfortably with the BRB’s definition of the answer.

    Really wanted 12a to be ‘fleas’ – the terminal letters of words two to six; laughed at 18a.

    4* / 3*

    Many thanks to Firefly and to Gazza – I’ve had the same “disabling” affliction for several days now, generously passed to me by my wife (not of course disabled by it!), so best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  9. I think this was as Huntsman says harder than Tuesday’s Donnybrook, but a different style completely. And of course, variety is the spice of life. Very enjoyable.

    Concur fully with Gazza’s podium. GWS sir!

  10. If 20a is of Oz origin, we are not aware of it having crossed the Tasman. We had to guess from the wordplay and checkers and confirm in BRB.
    Plenty to keep us head-scratching and chuckling. A fun solve.
    Thanks Firefly and Gazza.

  11. Most of this was ok , until you get t0 the words you’ve never heard of -20a 25a 1d-and a poor clue like 20d . Disappointing end to a promising puzzle

  12. Anybody else resent these “trademark/brand” and “pop culture” words, like 7a, 2d, 3d? I feel it destroys the timelessness of a puzzle (though no doubt I’m also an insufferable snob).

    1. Setters can’t win really. Some solvers dislike the use of ‘modern’ terminology, others complain that the vocabulary used is stuck in the past and they should use more up-to-date terms to attract younger solvers.

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