Toughie No 2961 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 2961

Toughie No 2961 by Hudson

Hints and tips by StephenL

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Hello everyone from a wet and windy (and sunny!) South Devon.

Hudson kicks off (note the topical football metaphor) the Toughie week with a fun puzzle full of his trademark wit and gentle misdirection. I filled in the grid relatively quickly but a couple of parsings needed extra thought.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1 Maybe Victoria welcomes flag waving in tough economic circumstances (11)
STAGFLATION: A portmanteau, these seem to be cropping up everywhere lately! Place an example of what Victoria could be (think transport) around an anagram (waving) of FLAG.

10 Ms Batty, being retired, put away soft pinny (5)
APRON: A reversal of a well known TV character around the musical abbreviation for soft. LOL

11 One running for office against Frank rejected information JFK provided (9)
CANDIDATE: A synonym of frank (ignore the false capitalisation) is followed by a reversal of some information JFK may provide once we realise that JFK is an airport.

12 Hector is shivering in the grip of cold turkey, drained, irritable(9)
CROTCHETY: Insert an anagram (shivering) of HECTOR into the abbreviation for Cold and the outer letters (drained) of TurkeY.

13 Turnback the clock and relax (5)
REMIT: A reversal of a generic name for a clock.

14 Reprimand Rover(dog)? (6)
CARPET: Something of which a Rover is/was an example and something of which a dog is an example.

16 Kate’s sweet William planted in west-facing ornamental lawn rockery? (8)
CORNWALL: Hidden and reversed (planted in west-facing). Of course William, being the eldest son of The Monarch is the Duke of…..

18 Item released from cloud storage that might make a bit of a splash(8)
RAINDROP: A mildly cryptic definition, the cloud being in the traditional sense and not in the IT sense that Hudson would like you to think.

20 Acquire gold carriage(6)
LANDAU: A synonym of acquire, as one may a good job say, and the chemical symbol of gold.

23 Blasé about leaving Beaujolais nouveau, which could raise the spirits (5)
OUIJA: Remove the letters (leaving) that spell out “blase” from BEAUJOLAIS and make an anagram (nouveau) of what remains. Note the setter has correctly given two anagram indicators here. The spirits are not related to mood.

24 High-ranking Venetian attending party beginning to get vicious (3-3-3)
DOG EAT DOG: If you split the solution 4,2,2 and then append the initial letter of Get you’ll see the wordplay. I had to check the 4-letter high-ranking official.

26 Country squire visiting harbour miles away (9)
ARGENTINA: Insert a synonym of squire into a port once the abbreviation for Miles has been removed from its front. Coincidentally topical as said country has just suffered an embarrassing loss in The World Cup.

27 Blooming ‘eck … ‘orrible ‘olding lizard!(5)
GECKO: Hidden with the indicator written in the same way as the fodder.

28 Savvy way passenger vehicles reversed (6,5)
STREET SMART: A synonym of way in the sense of a road plus the reversal of some passenger vehicles. I think this phrase is more commonly used with a different second word.


2 Body temperature(roughly)(5)
TORSO: The abbreviation for Temperature and a phrase (2,2) meaning roughly.

3 Feeding Reagan a cheesy, creamy mixture from France(7)
GANACHE: Hidden (feeding)

4 Valet unveiled shiner(6)
LACKEY: The shiner here is what one may have after a blow to the eye. Remove the outside letters (unveiled)

5 Alfred reporting live court action? (8)
TENNYSON: The surname of this (poetic) Alfred sounds like (reporting) some live court action, the court being in a sporting sense.

6 Greek character’s poetic appeal before president leaves America for Italy (7)
OMICRON: The fifteenth letter of the Greek alphabet which gained notoriety as a variant of Covid is obtained by a single letter exclamation used in poetry followed by our “good friend” the President of France with the abbreviation for America replaced by that of Italy.

7 Soldier: “clean bottled my piano exam”(5,8)
LANCE CORPORAL: Start with an anagram (bottled) of CLEAN, add an exclamation meaning “my”, the abbreviation for Piano and one of the staple exams.

8 Might one make hay holding some playing cards? (4,4)
FARMHAND: A synonym of holding in the sense of property or estate plus how one might describe some playing cards that one holds

9 Daughter, upper-class, introduced to New Orleans gent who fills in at work (6,7)
DENTAL SURGEON: Anagram (New) of ORLEANS GENT and the abbreviations for Daughter and Upper class. Clever anagrind

15 King feeling sick, stabbed at the front fencing (8)
RAILINGS: The Latin abbreviation for King, a synonym of sick and the initial letter (at the front) of Stabbed

17 Digger’s employer‘s mild brews left outside(8)
GOLDMINE: Insert an anagram (brews) of MILD into a synonym of left in the sense of departed

Beautiful song and video

19 Police search of garden wasted time(7)
DRAGNET: Anagram (wasted) of GARDEN plus the abbreviation for Time

21 Priest upset with revolting magazine material supplied by 9(7)
AMALGAM. A reversal (upset) of a monk plus a reversal (revolting) of an abbreviated MAGazine gives a material used in cavity fillings.

22 A good hour sat around, horrified (6)
AGHAST: A from the clue, the abbreviations for Good and Hour and an anagram (around) of SAT.

25 Regularly drench our home furnishings (5)
DECOR: The regular letters of DrEnCh OuR.


Good stuff. My winners are 11&23a plus 9d but smiles throughout the grid.

17 comments on “Toughie No 2961
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  1. I always look forward to a Hudson crossword and this one didn’t disappoint with lots to enjoy throughout

    Thanks to him and to Stephen

  2. This was nicely challenging without being too tough and great fun. It seems to be the in thing at the moment for our setters to come up with lots of different types of carriages, but at least I had heard of 20a!

    13a was a new meaning of the answer for me, but confirmed with a BRB check; and I thought the definition for 17d seemed a bit weird.

    23a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Hudson and to SL.

  3. Was the reference to JFK in 11a deliberate? Today is the anniversary of his assassination.
    I liked 9d but my favourite clue was Kate’s Sweet William.

  4. As I noted on the back page blog, Hudson quite friendly with this enjoyable Toughie – 2*/3.5*

    0.5* ‘lost’ on enjoyment for the four letter non-anagram in 1a – cycling would have been better to move one letter. Although, I suppose it depends on which ‘A’ you consider to be part of the anagram material.

    Candidates for favourite – 14a, 24a, 28a, and 2d – and the winner is 2d.

    Thanks to Hudson and StephenL.

  5. Completed this unaided, unusual for me with the Toughie. There were one or two bung-ins though and I’m grateful for StephenL pointing me in the right direction with regard to parsing 8d and 21d. Favourites were 13a and 16a. Thanks also to Hudson for setting a doable crossword. It’s a big boost to the confidence.

  6. 23a and the sweet William take my top spot this afternoon from a terrific selection of clues. This setter usually provides an entertaining and accessible Toughie and this was no exception. Great fun.

    My thanks to Hudson and SL.

  7. Some lovely clues in this, my favourite 16a, with 18 and 23a close runners up. 17d LOI. **/****
    Thanks to Hudson and SL.

  8. Got into a bit of a flap with a couple in the NE but just relieved to have felt able to tackle a Toughie for once.
    Like our reviewer, I would have recognised 26a more easily given a different second word but that obviously wouldn’t have met our setter’s requirement.
    Couple of the easier ones made my leader board – 20a & 5d.

    Thanks to Hudson and to Stephen for the review.

  9. Loved this one. Pretty gentle but just a delight from start to finish. Reckon the fact that there is already a wide selection of picks from those commenting is testimony to the quality of the clueing throughout. Top 2 for me 4d&23a but with ticks in abundance elsewhere – 1,10,16,18,26&28a plus 2,3,5&6d. As yesterday’s birthday boy says not a dud in there.
    Thanks to Hudson & Stephen

  10. I found this more straightforward than yesterday’s cryptic. This one is just right for a Tuesday and what a good crossword it is. I needed the hints to parse 11a and 6d. Favourite was 4d, there were many contenders. Thanks to Hudson and SL.

  11. What a wonderful Toughie with which to start the week – I have come to relish the days when Hudson sets the challenge. Ticks all over the place and will limit special mentions to 12a, 16a, 23a, 24a, 2d and 9d. All such high quality any could take the laurels.

    2* / 4*

    Many thanks to Hudson & to SL

  12. Just bestirred myself from a daylong siesta. Really enjoyed this superb Toughie last night, the perfect ending–the icing on the cake–for my birthday. I don’t usually rate Toughies, but this one gets ***** for its witty and amusing entertainment value. I think I’ll choose 6d as my favourite because it took me the longest time to parse and I love its poetic nicety. I’ll read Stephen’s review now, so thanks to him and Hudson.

  13. Well I managed about half of this unaided which I felt really pleased about. I can’t understand how anyone could do 1a so thanks to SL for his much needed explanations and thanks to Hudson for the toughie. I’m now going to prepare for granddaughter number 3s seventh birthday so fingers crossed 🤞 the cake behaves and the jelly sets in time. Will be repeating process on Saturday for granddaughter number 4s fifth birthday! Cold dark and raining here at the moment.

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