Sunday Toughie 40 (hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 40 (hints)

Sunday Toughie 40 by Robyn (Hints)
Hints and Tips by Gazza

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SJB feared that he might be rather under the weather today after the jollifications in York so I’m standing in for him with the Toughie hints. That’s no chore at all for me because Robyn is amongst my favourite setters and he’s given us a typically witty puzzle. Fans of Robyn won’t have to wait too long for more of his craft because he’s back in the Toughie slot this coming Wednesday.

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also”. Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions.

Some hints for what I consider to be the trickier clues follow.


1a After drug overdose, caretaker means to perform convincingly (6,6)
Bring together the short name of a stimulating drug, the abbreviation for overdose and an adjectival synonym for caretaker to get what Daniel Day-Lewis, for example, is a leading proponent of.

23a Provocation about skirts for men? (3,3)
A preposition meaning about and what skirts for men might be an example of.

27a Iffy place to drive, say, in front of bunker has no grass (5,4)
The first letter of bunker, a verb meaning ‘has no’ and another informal word for grass or marijuana.

28a One may dabble in this gentle, confusing game (8,4)
Join together the musical abbreviation for gently, a present participle meaning confusing or befuddling and an indoor game with balls.


1d Improperly catch a little hoodlum — is he armed? (7)
A hidden word.

2d Don’t stick first bit of stuffing in goose (5)
The option you might choose instead of ‘stick’ in a game of pontoon comes from inserting the first letter of stuffing into a goose or fool.

5d Carry On film, one using Amerindian symbols? (8)
A verb to carry precedes a film or fine spray.

6d Sky features new statement about sexuality (5)
The abbreviation for new and a statement (1’1,2) indicating that one’s not rigid about one’s sexual leanings.

24d Copy carpeting of leaves (5)
Remove ‘of’ from a carpeting or reprimand.

25d Place to drink single port (4)
A place to drink alcohol and the letter that looks like a single.

I really liked lots of clues here, including 1a, 5d and 16d.

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18 comments on “Sunday Toughie 40 (hints)
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  1. Thank you to Robyn for a nice friendly toughie with just about the right amount of toughiness for a busy morning when one’s head really isn’t quite sure what the time is. Thanks also to Gazza

    If you can’t wait until Wednesday, yesterday’s Guardian Prize Puzzle and the FT cryptic crossword were also set by our favourite pirate

  2. Prolixic has informed me that there was an error in clue 12a on the new puzzles website (now corrected). I wasn’t aware of this as I got my printout this morning from the old puzzles website.
    For anyone still confused the correct clue for 12a is:
    I move on, travelling over river, being able to accept any fare (8)

  3. Took me a while and a couple of sessions to finish but enjoyed every clue, especially 27a. Thank you Robyn for the amusement and Gazza for your hints and colourful illustrations

  4. Thanks to Gazza, I would have struggled to do that myself. The wrong ending to 3d made a mess of the SW and it took several coffees and time to unravel my braincells as well as the lights. Thanks also to Robyn.
    Had a great time in York meeting Big Dave alums and 225 ers, much beer was consumed and several braincells died for the cause but all is well now.

    1. It was lovely to meet you, too, John. Thank you for your advice on buses; I made the train comfortably.

      (Maybe next year I’ll be organized enough to make it for the whole weekend.)

      1. Glad to meet you too, My own bus timetabling skills meant I missed the last bus :o but a taxi arrived eventually.
        We did ok in the quiz but as expected the pictures were our downfall. Three teams tied for first and I think we were joint next.

  5. Robyn is a prolific setter and I’m in awe of his ability to maintain such a high quality of cruciverbal entertainment – today being no exception. I have picked out four clues from each direction which I particularly enjoyed: 12, 18, 19 and 27 across, and 3, 6, 17 and 18 down. My clue of the day was the elegant and very witty 3d.
    Thank you, Robyn, and also my thanks to Gazza for his hints post, especially the 27a illustration :eek:

  6. I just lost my comment to the naughty ether, confound it. Anyway, here goes again: I really enjoyed this witty and delightful offering by one of my very favourite compilers, fast joining the ranks of Logman, Beam, Silvanus, and Chalicea (and aren’t we blessed to have these geniuses amongst us?). Several very UKish references (2d, 27a, 28a) took me out of my smug American zone, and that’s a very good thing, but it was 6d, 3d, & 27d whose peaks rose a bit higher than all the other summits throughout this splendid grid. Thanks to Gazza and Robyn

  7. I really enjoyed this splendid puzzle, for once tuning in to Robyn’s wavelength pretty swiftly, such that it felt more like a mid-week back pager. Delayed by two in the SE, and was surprised 23a was passed by the Ed., who evidently has no fear of outraged Scotsmen!

    Particularly enjoyed 1a, 6d, 16d and 25d.

    Many thanks to Robyn and Gazza.

  8. Started too late last night & with heavy eyelids abandoned half completed but finished off this morning. Plenty tricky enough for me but certainly on the gentle side for this setter – right up there among my favourite compilers. Tops for me – 1&27a plus 3&5d. Super puzzle & as entertaining as ever.
    Thanks to Robyn & Gazza

  9. Many thanks indeed to Gazza and to everyone dropping in to share their thoughts. Have a great week (and hope to see some of you on Wednesday!)

  10. I have been doing the back pager for a year or so and can usually finish unaided. I have had a look at a few toughies but this time I got on much better and whilst the rest of you finished almost a week ago I have finally given up with 3 to go (3D, 11A, 6D although I have got that one now from the hint), and a few others that I think are correct but can’t parse.
    Probably no one will see this now but thought I would post anyway as I am feeling very pleased to have got this far, and I shall attempt a lot more toughies from now on.

    1. The blogger gets an email for each comment received no matter how far after the original date so you can be assured that at least one person reads your comments.
      Well done on your progress with this Toughie – I hope that will give you confidence to try more Toughies.
      The full review of this Toughie will be published next Wednesday morning (9th November) so you’ll be able to check your parsings.

  11. The penny has dropped on 3D and 11A now, but looking at the hints I realised I had a couple of others wrong, so have corrected them now. So not an unaided solve but pretty close. It reminds me of the first time I finished a back pager about a year ago, so that gives me confidence to do more toughies.

    1. Congratulations, Today’s Toughie 41 is just as accessible as this and well worth a gander. Stick with us and we will have you rattling off Elgar toughies before long.

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