Toughie 2966 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2966

Toughie No 2966 by Django

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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

Django provided a particularly tough Toughie for our Wednesday solving entertainment – I wonder if I would have got on better if I’d considered the fact that this was going to be a pangram when I was solving the crossword rather realising it was while preparing the Hints and Tips?

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1a    Unfashionable item of jewellery linked to ears all over the place (7)
CHAOTIC An item of jewellery without the adverb meaning fashionable followed by the medical term meaning related to the ear

5a    Pump gallons before turning over my small garden (3,4)
GYM SHOE I think it may depend on where you live as to whether you’d call this particular item of footwear a ‘pump’. The abbreviation for gallons goes before a reversal of MY (from the clue), the abbreviation for small and a verb meaning to garden

9a    Painting house — one with crude interior? (3,4)
OIL DRUM A type of painting and a slang name for a house

10a    Heart in mouth for loser — quite the reverse for poker (7)
TICKLER Do the reverse of what it says in the first half of the clue and put the ‘mouth’ for Loser in a slang name for the heart

11a    Data storage device computer manufacturer rejected made little sense (9)
DRIVELLED A data storage device and a reversal (rejected) of the name of a manufacturer of computers

12a    Provide with Railway Union fund (5)
DOWRY A synonym for provide and the abbreviations for with and railway

13a    Follow mother’s teaching (5)
DOGMA A verb meaning to follow and an informal word for mother

15a    Machine putting fruit in precious metal can at last (9)
AUTOMATON A fruit put between the chemical symbol for gold (precious metal) and the last letter of can

17a    Hardened sinner’s opening religious books penned by priest (9)
SCLEROTIC The opening letter of Sinner and some abbreviated religious books ‘penned by’ or inserted into a priest

19a    Bring back some carrot cake and ham? (5)
ACTOR Hidden in reverse (back some) in carROT CAke reveals a thespian who may or may not be described as a ham

22a    Nine iron’s bagged before Woods finally holes (5)
FIXES Holes in the sense of difficult situations – The Roman numeral for nine is inserted into (bagged by) the chemical symbol for iron, the result going before the final letter of woodS

23a    Sailing vessel fine with freight being lead-free, cheap fuel? (4,5)
JUNK FOODS An East Asian sailing vessel, the abbreviation for fine and some freight without the first letter (being lead-free)

25a    Broadcast miracle save (7)
RECLAIM An anagram (broadcast) of MIRACLE

26a    Let out inside pound under cover? (7)
QUILTED An anagram (out) of LET goes inside an informal term for a pound

27a    Tyrant taking over New Zealand gets anything but love (3-4)
NON-ZERO Anything greater or less than nothing (love) – a Roman tyrant taking (having inserted) the cricket abbreviation for over and the abbreviation for New Zealand

28a    Shape of magazine covers press regulator detailed (7)
ELLIPSE The name of a magazine covers or goes round the acronym for the UK press regulator without the final letter


1d    Fourth line of pews installed in church before day gets busy (7)
CROWDED How one might refer to the fourth line of pews (3,1) inserted (installed) in the abbreviation for the Church of England, the abbreviation for day being added at the end

2d    Loyalist essentially fibbing and joining forces (7)
ALLYING The essential letters of loyAList and a synonym for fibbing

3d    Wrong base for dessert (5)
TORTE A wrong and the letter that is the symbol of the base of the natural system of logarithms

4d    Silicone breast — perhaps one dropping halfway down — firm at first, becoming flexible (9)
COMPLIANT An abbreviated firm goes first before something put into the body (silicone breast perhaps) where the I (one) moves (dropping) halfway down the word

5d    Understood the woman’s withdrawn in confinement (5)
GATED A synonym of understood without (withdrawn) the female pronoun (the woman’s)

6d    First man infiltrating a group of spies after Bond’s boss is hard nut to crack (9)
MACADAMIA Follow the initial by which James Bond’s boss is known with the name of the first man in the Bible inserted into (infiltrating) an American group of spies

7d    Idiot putting drink on card (7)
HALFWIT A quantity of drink on a comical person (card)

8d    Notice French city near the start (5,2)
EARLY ON A synonym for notice and a French city

14d    Industry that could explore Milky Way‘s chocolate bar range (9)
AEROSPACE A chocolate bar and a range or distance

16d    Extremely troublesome way to pay Northern Ireland for a European approach (9)
TECHNIQUE The ‘extreme’ letters of TroublesomE and a way of paying for something, the abbreviation for Northern Ireland replacing the first abbreviation for European

17d    Colour of garment mostly worn by females (7)
SAFFRON Two abbreviations for Female ‘worn’ or inserted into most of a Malay skirt-like garment

18d    Glossary requires study once mounted digital display unit missing power leads (7)
LEXICON A reversal (mounted) of a digital display unit without (missing) the abbreviation for Power leads or goes before a verb meaning to study

20d    Couples recalling occasionally upbeat dance (3-4)
TWO-STEP Couples and a reversal (recalling) of the occasional letters of uPbEaT

21d    What’s left of liberation making Conservative papers (7)
RESIDUE Replace the abbreviation for Conservative in a liberation and replace with some abbreviated identity papers

23d    Massive sweater dismissing a smelly problem (5)
JUMBO A sweater without (dismissing) the preposition meaning a or for each, followed by an abbreviated smelly problem

24d    French setter will flounce (5)
FRILL The abbreviation for French and how Django (the setter) might say he will [do something]


29 comments on “Toughie 2966
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  1. Absolutely loved this. Inventive and humorous cluing throughout. As usual with Django there were a few bung-ins where I found the definition and then worked back to the parsing (e.g. the very clever 1a, 5a). For once I was on pangram alert early enough for it to assist (with 23d for example). Particular favourites: 4d (both for construction and surface read), 27a, 6d and 17a.

    All in all fabulous stuff – more of these sorts of puzzles please Mr Lancaster.

    Many thanks to Django and CS for unravelling some of the parsing.

  2. Very enjoyable indeed, fresh and contemporary, solved a lot of it on a wing and a prayer (with lots of hunches thrown in for good measure!) but some real smile inducing moments on working out the parsings.
    Although not a rapid solve my only real hold up was in the NE.
    My ticks go to 5&11a (LOL) plus 21d with top spot for sheer audacity going to the brilliant 4d.
    Many thanks indeed to Django and Cryptic Sue.

  3. Enjoyable puzzle with lots of neat misdirections – thanks to Django and CS.
    I liked 5a (we used to call them daps), 23a and 23d but favourite has to be 4d.

  4. For the second day running I am checking the calendar to see if it isn’t the end of the week already!
    Hard, but very enjoyable. I spotted the pangram in time to help in the SE corner.
    Thanks to CS and Django.

  5. Didn’t notice it was a pangram until working through the parsing post completion. No letter reveals required though not exactly unaided as I did hit the reveal mistakes function (weren’t any) 75% of the way through to check progress. As ever with DG the fun is in the why & will try & sort out the parsing of one or two before reading the review. Like yesterday with Robyn there are really too many good ‘uns to pick a podium never mind a winner but agree with Stephen that 4d was superb.
    Thanks to Django & CS

  6. Ouch ! That was too hard for me and I succeeded in getting about 20 of the clues.
    Thanks for the solutions, CS. And thanks to the setter.

  7. What a great puzzle!
    I haven’t commented recently, but this was the best toughie for ages.
    Thanks to Django and to CS for parsing 17d 21d and 1ac.

  8. Crikey this was tough, but I did enjoy the vast majority of the challenge. I have three queries:

    – Shouldn’t 18d finish “… missing power lead” as it is pixel (“digital display unit”) minus the P for “power” reversed (“mounted”), or am i missing something? I also thought the surface reading of this clue was somewhat clunky.

    – Isn’t the “a” in 16d surface padding?

    – I can’t equate “notice” in 8d with “ear”. Can anyone suggest a sentence where the two are interchangeable?

    The remaining 29 clues of this pangram were brilliant and any of them could reasonably lay claim to being awarded the title of favourite.

    Many thanks to Django and to CS.

    1. The reversed pixel without the p leads the study

      The a in 16d tells you to only remove one European

      Ear – attention – notice

      1. Thanks very much, CS.

        18d – yes, that makes sense. I missed that P = power without needing the word lead.
        16d – that too makes sense.
        8d – I think this is a case of what BD calls “thesauritis”. Ear=Attention; Attention=Notice; but that doesn’t mean that Ear=Notice. E.g.: “give me your ear/attention” is fine but you wouldn’t say “give me your notice”. Can you think of an example please where ear and notice are interchangeable?

        1. Even I wouldn’t actually say/write “give me your notice” in that context but just because it’s unused/unfamiliar/sounds weird, does it mean it’s intrinsically grammatically incorrect? After all, you’ve just confirmed that attention does = notice. I’m very interested in pure semantics, but I’m no grammarian. I rather think that Shakespeare wouldn’t have baulked at using it …

            1. The best I can come up with is …”nothing that went on in the office escaped her ear/notice”
              Genuine question…. Collins (and presumably Chambers) has them as synonyms (at least one way) so is that not good enough?

      2. You must have posted this whilst I was researching/writing (plus watching the football) my comment below. No plagiarism involved! :-)

    2. They can both mean attention, so: Everything that went on in the classroom got the teacher’s ear/notice.

      Admittedly, that sounds a bit odd/unfamiliar but not grammatically incorrect (I hope).

  9. Cracking puzzle, which after a fast start slowed to a crawl after about a third and then accelerated to a surprisingly swift finish during the final third. Super puzzle, and as others have said, it feels fresh and modern, amusing and creative. Plenty of smiles throughout, smooth surfaces, and I did enjoy the schoal of red herring. Felt quite early that it would be a pangram (going N to S) but that suspicion didn’t assist. Could pick almost anything for special mentions but will limit to 1a, 12a, 17a, 23a, 1d, 4d & 14d.

    4* / 4*

    Many thanks to Django (really was startled & impressed to learn that he is / you are Dave Gorman!) and to CS for the review.

  10. Need the hints to parse 1a, 18d and 21d plus the nut was new to me. All in all a top class crossword that took a lot of sorting out. Fortunately I spotted the pangram which helped. Hard to pick a favourite but 1d made me laugh so I’ll go with that. Thanks to Django and CS.

  11. There seemed to be rather a lot of subtractions and substitutions here but some of them were cracking clues so no complaints. Favourites were 1a, 21d and 22d. I complained to myself about the digital display unit in 18d for a while before realising that it is, in fact, a unit of digital display – clever so and so.
    Thanks to Django and CS [but I’m only giving it 2/3* for difficulty – I found yesterday’s a lot tougher.]

  12. I didn’t have time to look at this one today, so am enjoying reading the hints. Is the garment in 17d sarong, not sari? Thanks to Django and CS.

  13. I solved this excellent pangram (unspotted) earlier today, then never got round to commenting. I remember that 22a and 14d were my favourites from a long list of possibles. Overall, tough but fair, and terrific entertainment.

    Thanks Django and CS.

  14. A definitive Toughie, yes indeed, which was a two-day challenge (last night; just now) for me and which I thoroughly enjoyed, even though it was a DNF on my own. With a bit of e-help and CS’s hints in the NE (‘pump’ is nowheresville for me in this instance), I now have a full grid, fully parsed, and I’ll settle for how I got there at a time in my life when memory, retention, and presence of mind come at a premium. So many aces for clues! 4d certainly rises to the top but there’s not a dud in the grid, and I underwent a particular round of flouncy frills as I solved 17a & 26a. Many thanks to CS and Django, who grows and grows on me.

  15. That was fun. I enjoyed solving the bottom half by myself, and I enjoyed having CrypticSue’s hints available to help with the top half. Lots of clues to like, with 1d’s “fourth line of pews” my favourite.

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