Toughie 2948 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2948

Toughie No 2948 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Some things I didn’t know, but all fairly clued of course. I found some of this hard but there are quite a few easier clues sprinkled about the grid. The pangram explains a couple of entries that surprised me.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1    Make, say, woolly slip with hard string backing worn by elderly? (4,1,6)
DROP A STITCH: A reversal (backing) of the abbreviation for hard plus another word for string or rope, all around (worn by) a (4,2) phrase meaning elderly

9a    Characters, by God, swapping sides in underworld (4)
ZEDS: Take a Greek god and exchange (swapping) the outer letters (sides) in UnderworlD

10a    Bernard Crick dressed without right tie (7,4)
CARRICK BEND: A knot! An anagram (dressed) of BERNARD C(r)ICK without an R

11a    Urban site regularly lying about despot (4)
TSAR: Backwards even letters ( … regularly lying about )

14a    In which you’d sort out weighty issue? (3,4)
FAT CAMP: Cryptic definition, with a play on weighty

16a    Obvious Romeo uncovered nice ornamented belt (7)
BALDRIC: A 4-letter word that can mean obvious, letter with radio code Romeo, and the central letters (uncovered) of ‘nice’

17a    Stomach ill temper about British (5)
BIBLE: The third stomach of ruminants. A word meaning ill-temper goes about the abbreviation for British

18a    Error suppressed by City Police (4)
TYPO: Hidden ( suppressed by …)

19a    Foundation sacking bishop the way things stand (2,2)
AS IS: A 5-letter word meaning foundation without (sacking) the initial abbreviation for bishop

20a    Clangers travel in space, primarily (5)
GOOFS: A 2-letter word for travel, a preposition that can mean in, and the first letter (primarily) of space

22a    Use up house-tax breaks, missing nothing (7)
EXHAUST: An anagram (breaks) of H(o)USE RAX without the O (missing nothing)

23a    Rebellious group, perhaps half having run away (7)
FACTION: Take an 8-letter word that describes numbers like a half, and remove the abbreviation for runs

24a    Mess remains behind hotel (4)
HASH: Some remains come after (behind) the abbreviation for hotel

28a    Monarch once quivering, angry with English knight (6,5)
VIRGIN QUEEN: An anagram (angry) of QUIVERING plus the abbreviations for English and the knight chess piece

29a    Face King John after exchange (4)
LOOK: The chess/card abbreviation for king comes after not before (after exchange) another word for john

30a    Press part that’s tender, offering pain relief? (5,6)
AGONY COLUMN: A cryptic definition, where press really refers to a newspaper


2d    Range of capital announced (4)
ROAM: A homophone (announced) of a European capital city

3d    Quiet river or mere (4)
PURE: The musical abbreviation for quiet and a 3-letter river

4d    Caught in rising black slimy fluid, die (7)
SUCCUMB: A reversal (rising) of the abbreviation for black plus a slimy fluid in your nose contains the abbreviation for caught

5d    Reverend Barham losing medals near the house in Scotland (4)
INBY: The pseudonym of Rev Barham without the central 5-letters meaning medals. I had to go google.

6d    Wolves et al. are able to identify hollow advantage (7)
CANIDAE: A verb meaning “are able”, and abbreviation meaning ‘to identify, and AvantagE without the inner letters (hollow)

7d    Garland with certain fit that’s worn casually (7,4)
LEISURE SUIT: A 3-letter garland, a word meaning certain, and a word meaning fit

8d    Excluding huge vacuous items in copy (11)
OSTRACISING: An abbreviation that means huge, then the outer letters (vacuous) of items go inside a word meaning a copy

12d    Removed from article — rotten flesh in stock (3,3,5)
OFF THE SHELF: a preposition meaning ‘removed from’, the definite article, and an anagram (rotten) of FLESH

13d    Careless host with pets that interrupt Springwatch? (4,3,4)
STOP THE SHOW: An anagram (careless) of HOST + PETS, then a 3-letter word that can mean that (def 7 in Chambers)

15d    Conspiracy covering up international test programme? (5)
PILOT: A 4-letter conspiracy goes around (covering up) the abbreviation for international

16d    Outspoken bank (5)
BLUFF: Two meaning, the second is a high steep (e.g. river) bank

20d    Good call about, initially, stretching tight thong (1-6)
G-STRING: The abbreviation for good and a word meaning to call on a phone go about the initial letters of ‘stretching tight’

21d    Hellish cat is an oddball (7)
SATANIC: An anagram (oddball) of CAT IS AN

25d    Facetiously opposed to calling someone when naked (4)
AGIN: A 6-letter word for calling someone e.g. over a PA system without the outer letters (naked)

26d    Fold up web address following fine (4)
FURL: The abbreviation for a web address following the abbreviation for fine

27d    Heads of select European judiciary meeting Polish assembly (4)
SEJM: First letters (heads of …)

I enjoyed some of the simpler ones. I like the Met supressing errors (18a), the house tax breaks (22a) and the slimy black fluid (4d). Which were your favourites?

11 comments on “Toughie 2948
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  1. A mixture of easier clues and some impossible [ to me ] ones. The latter include 5d and 9a and I’d never heard of 27d before today, but obvious from clue.Only got 10a as I seem to remember a racehorse with that name! Also not au fait with17a but fairly clued. Enjoyable **** Thanks to all.

  2. About as well as I’ve ever done with a Friday Toughie, but I could not unpack the mysteries of 9a and 14a–both of which are now so obvious after reading Dutch’s hints. I very much enjoyed this absorbing little gem even though I’d never heard of 10a and failed to fully parse 1a. Favourites: 28a, 30a, and the 4-letter clues, but my COTD is the smarmy and squirmy 4d. Thanks to Dutch and Sparks.

  3. Phew! That Toughie sure lived up to its name. I got there in the end, although 5d was a guess, later confirmed, as was 1a. Like others, 4d proved to be my favourite. Overall that was a proper workout, very rewarding to finish and thoroughly entertaining.

    Thanks to Sparks for the challenge and to Dutch for the explanations.

  4. Good job I had plenty of time for this mind bender. Some very easy bits but some only untangle able with electronic help. Enjoyed it overall, though. *****/****

  5. Did better than I had anticipated with this but half a dozen clues were totally beyond me and others I got from the word play but were outside my range of general knowledge. I would never have got 5d or 16a in a month of Sundays and both 6d and 17a were new to me though sympathetically clued. I enjoyed 1a and 12d. Thanks to Sparks for the challenge and Dutch for the much needed hints.

  6. References needed for a couple of answers but we did eventually get it all sorted. Rather a lot of pesky four letter answers which we always seem to find more challenging for some reason.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

  7. I said yesterday that the back page was harder than this which I actually finished. We’ll, it wasn’t an Elgar! Fridays should be fun, easing us into the weekend. I just hope the powers that be listen and learn from yesterday’s disgruntled and unhappy bloggers.

  8. I worked my way through this reasonably satisfactorily, with occasional references to Chambers and Google to check hunches, but came to a complete halt with 13d, which I still don’t get. Usually, a multi-word answer is a recognisable phrase or saying but this means nothing to me. Can anyone explain?

    1. Depends which bit you didn’t get, Mac. The 3 letter word is how, which as Dutch says has as its 7th definition, ‘that’, in Chambers.
      If it’s Springwatch which is confusing you – it’s an example of a TV show. The question mark shows the setter could have picked any show. I guess he chose Springwatch because it fits with pets and has a host.
      That’s my best guess in a real curate’s egg of a puzzle for me.

      1. Thanks. My elderly Chambers does not have that definition of ‘that’, which doesn’t help, but I had sort of worked out that Springwatch could just about justify ‘show’. However, is ‘Stop the show’ an expression?

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