Toughie 2944 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2944

Toughie No 2944 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I thought I had picked up on a race-horse theme (googling every across entry – apart from the 4-letter pair – together with ‘horse’ gave a race-horse hit) but Elgar tells me there was no such intention. Spooky.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    A buffer like Chopin following trunk to JFK? (4,6)

BOOT POLISH: Nationality of Chopin following a car part that JFK would call trunk

6a    No-frills trip to see the game many miles from here (4)

AFAR: A 6-letter trip to see game without the outer letters (No-frills)

10a    Laid-back way of performing leading to ace parts in Osaka? (5)

NAOMI: A reversal (laid-back) of an abbreviation for ‘way of performing’ plus the abbreviation for ace inserted into (parts) ‘in’

11a    In a minute bedroom, is work unit one source of odour? (9)

AMBERGRIS: Inside (in) A from the clue, the abbreviations for minute and bedroom, and IS from the clue, we have a work unit

12a     Run over on wagon, alien with skin of green composition (7)

OCTETTE: A reversal (run over) of an abbreviation for being ‘on wagon’ and our favourite alien all inside (with skin of) a 3-letter word meaning green

13a    Mean score (3-4)

LOW-DOWN: Two meanings, the first as in base, the second as in info

14a    Denouement characteristic of our great detective, say? (4,8)

HOME STRAIGHT: A homophone (say) of a (6,5) phrase that would be a ‘characteristic of our great detective’

18a    Internationally, however retold, novel snubs Spain (3,5,4)

THE WORLD OVER: An anagram (novel) of HOWEVER R(e)TOLD but without (snubs) the IVR for Spain

21a     One of them to make a sizeable bit of brass from a tub? (7)

ADDENDA: Split (3,3,1), one of these supplements would specifically convert ‘a tub’ to ‘a sizeable bit of brass’

23a    Coming from behind, Gunners win (not with style!) away banker (7)

NIAGARA: A reversal (coming from behind) of an abbreviation for artillerymen plus a word meaning ‘win’, then AWAY from the clue but without the 3-letters meaning ‘style’

24a    Means to save dictator a small slice of Italian sausage (9)

PEPPERONI: A scheme for saving money, a South American dictator, and the first letter (a small slice) of Italian

25a    Like act that goes west after Dynamo’s first trick (5)

DODGE: A reversal (that goes west) of a Latin abbreviation meaning ‘like’ or ‘for instance’ plus a verb meaning ‘act’ come after the first letter of Dynamo

26a    See what day it is (4)

DATE: Two meanings, the first having romantic connotations

27a    Brief climb down around path of French soldier (7,3)

GENERAL LEE: A reversal (around) of a 6-letter word meaning to climb or back down, but without the last letter (brief), then a French word for path


1d    Dead-eyed drone? (4,2)

BANG ON: Two meanings, the first referring to marksmanship, the second to speech

2d    Speaking truthfully, we assume, for boat builder, temperature dropping (2,4)

ON OATH: How you might address a letter for a biblical boatbuilder, then drop the abbreviation for temperature

3d    Around the country one chases, show dog (5-2-7)

POINT-TO-POINTER: A (5,2) phrasal verb meaning show or indicate, plus a kind of dog

4d/22d    Holiday pleasantly in isolation: “Do Not Disturb” (5,4,5)

LEAVE WELL ALONE: Three words meaning ‘holiday’, ‘pleasantly’ and ‘in isolation’. Or in sequence ‘holiday pleasantly in isolation’

5d/15d    English actress redirected to Helsinki by deserted road? (5,9)

SYBIL THORNDIKE: An anagram (redirected) of TO HELSINKI BY R(oa)D (deserted road)

7d    Leave deposit on lake in Emerald Isle (8)

FURLOUGH:    A deposit (e.g. in your kettle, or your mouth!) plus how one might refer to a lake in the Emerald Isle

8d    Not all squares in a tangram will be white (8)

RESINATA: Hidden (Not all … )

9d     Railwaymen joining artillerymen to support train staff, has-been porter aboard (5.9)

CREWE ALEXANDRA: A conjunction meaning joining plus the abbreviation for artillerymen goes underneath (to support): a 4-letter word for train staff, plus a 2-letter ‘has-been’ containing a porter of the beverage kind.

16d    Sporting thong broke (8)

STRAPPED: Two meanings, the second an unenviable financial situation affecting most of UK

17d    Double bed in father’s room into which fiancée finally slips (4,4)

DEAD SPIT: A (3’1,3) phrase for ‘bed in father’s room’ contains (into which … slips) the last (finally) letter of fiancée

19d    Line taken on museum wrecker (6)

VANDAL: A (1,3,1) museum plus the abbreviation for line

20d    A flower arrangement challenge issued by Atalanta?

RACEME: Splitting this biological term (4,2) would suggest the mythical Atalanta’s challenge to prospective husbands to run faster than her

I liked the tennis star because it took me ages to twig. I very much enjoyed the surface of the hidden clue about the tangram pieces. My favourite is the homophone of our greatest detective, though it did elicit a groan, as homophones do. Which clues did you like?

8 comments on “Toughie 2944

  1. I found this puzzle quite friendly and not too tricky, although as ever with this compiler there were one or two unparsed bung-ins which needed explanation. The excellent 14a was my top pick, from 1a and 20d.

    Many thanks to Elgar for the considerable challenge, and to Dutch.

  2. An initial burst of smugness – when I got 1a and a handful of others very quickly – quickly disappeared. Slow but fairly steady after that, definitely 5* time. I was left with four not quite parsed, though in each I had an inkling. Lack of sporting knowledge slowed me down a lot in 10a and 9d. Most grateful to Dutch for clearing things up, and to Elgar for giving me a bad excuse – but a good reason – to start work much too late.

  3. Is 12ac just an example of an Osaka? Or am I missing something? If that is the justification, then it’s a bit strained. I suppose the ‘ace’ does give a surface read nudge in the direction of tennis, but I had never heard of the player. I thought maybe she was a suburb of Osaka, so a reluctant google for parts of Osaka accidentally gave me the answer. Otherwise very enjoyable. 1ac made me smile.

    1. Yes, the question mark (which covers many sins) can be seen as a definition by example indicator. That suggests Osaka is an example of a naomi. But maybe that wasn’t the intention. You could equally say naomi is an example of Osaka – but naomi is more common, so that is less likely. The rules for first name/ surname equivalences aren’t written in stone. If the celeb is well known, often no indicator is used, but fairness is required. To clue a surname as John just would not be cool. This was my last to parse, if that helps!

  4. Early for a change. I often don’t get round to Elgar until Saturday or Sunday.
    A fairly quick solve for me. Like F+R above, the two sporting ones held me up, not being into women’s tennis, and not being English. But I’ve changed trains at Crewe once, coincidentally on my way to meet Elgar and others in London, so the Railwaymen should have been obvious.
    Liked 14a, 8d (I love retsina), and 20d (familiar with Greek mythology).

  5. I found this a bit trickier than recent Elgars [I, too, failed to see 10a] but enjoyable nonetheless. Favourite was the cunningly-defined 17d. I’m not sure how necessary “not with style” is in 23a given that “away” can indicate “a” on its own.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  6. I thought this an excellent Elgar with which to end the week – a 5* Toughie without a doubt, but fair and achievable throughout. Needed Dutch’s wonderful blog to understand nearly a half dozen of my answers, including the parsing of 10a (not helped by my utter lack of interest in tennis), while the Gunners have been winning with a lot of style – and not a little good fortune – for much of this season 🥳, early though it still is, of course!

    COTD a tie between 14a and 20d.

    Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch

  7. Got within 3 without help, not bad for Elgar ! Still struggling with 21a though and my classical knowledge let me down on 20d. Should have got 26a. An excellent puzzle.14a my favourite.

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