Toughie 2968 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2968

Toughie No 2968 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A nice steady solve, though back to 5* time for me. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a     Pursuit of rolling credit acquires personal new crockery (5,5,5)

CROWN GREEN BOWLS: the abbreviation for credit, a pronoun meaning personal, another word for new or naive, and an example of crockery

9a     “Incubus” is the dark horse (9)

NIGHTMARE: A word for dark and a female horse

10a     What comes in handy for butcher’s unlimited holidays (5)

LEAVE: Take a 7-letter handy butcher’s implement and remove the outer letters (unlimited)

11a Husband’s off from here with ladies, say, in Vatican City? (7)

ENCLAVE: The abbreviation for husband leaves (off) a 5-letter word meaning ‘from here’, with what could be the ladies, say, inside (in)

12a    People from Cornwall, perhaps controversially, single out emmets from Hants (7)

ENGLISH: An anagram (out) of SINGLE plus the letter that is left when you remove emmets from Hants

13a     Mum’s mum, in and out of India, died (3)

NAN: Take ‘in and’ from the clue and remove (out of) the letter with codeword India and the abbreviation for died

14a    Vary the tone of pub spotted in report (7)

INFLECT: A homophone (in report) of other words for pub and spotted

17a    Separate fine for a strange creature from the East (4,3)

TEAR OFF: A reversal (from the East) of the abbreviation for fine, FOR A from the clue, and a strange visitor or alien

19a    Nine-piece, unfashionable backing group of the 70s (7)

NONUPLE: A (3-1) word meaning unfashionable then the reversal (backing) of a 70’s band, known by the initials of their surnames

22a    Intermediate to put down stake, then go north (7)

BETWEEN: A 3-letter word meaning ‘to put down stake’, a verb meaning ‘go’ or ‘spend a penny’, and the abbreviation for north

24a    Arable area, in part (3)

LEA: An all-in-one hidden (… in part)

25a    Partner who was, for one summer, French interpreter (7)

EXEGETE: A 2-letter ‘partner who was’, a Latin abbreviation meaning ‘for one’, and summer in French

26a    Challenge earns favourable vote (7)

GAINSAY: A 5-letter word meaning earns or profits, and a 2-letter ‘favourable vote’

28a    Could this be barbecue paste? (5)

OUTDO: Split (3,2), the answer could be a barbecue

29a    One has concealed message about boozer for returning maestro (9)

TOSCANINI: A reversal (for returning) of the Roman numeral one, A hidden message in a crossword, the 1-letter Latin abbreviation for about, and a boozer or toper

30a    In which your partner’s double crossing? (9,6)

DUPLICATE BRIDGE: A word for double and a word for a crossing gives you a tournament version of a card game. A semi-all-in-one, with a cryptic element


1d    Ready meals can cook over counter (11,4)

CONVENIENCE FOOD: Another word for can or john, then the reversal (counter) of a 2-letter verb meaning cook and a preposition that can mean over (definition 13 in Chambers)

2d    Wild dog chasing its tail, it seems (5)

ORGIC: A 5-letter dog where the head letter is moved to the back to bite its tail

3d    Brainbox, or fruitcake? (7)

NUTCASE: Split (3,4), the answer could be the container of the brain

4d    I’m not sure about solitary chap who’s refined substance in lab (7)

REAGENT: An interjection that means ‘I’m not sure’ is reversed (about), then a (1,4) phrase meaning ‘solitary chap who’s refined’ (in the sense of just one chap)

5d     Consecutive characters written on top of the tin? (7)

ELEMENT: Consecutive letters spelled out (written, 2,2,2) on the first letter (top) of ‘the’

6d    Traditional Italian goods record incorporated mixed meat produce (7)

BOLOGNA: A translation from ‘traditional’ Italian (Latin) of ‘goods’ containing (incorporated) a record or diary entry

7d    SOS issued by nervous Osmosis in your compiling team is annoying (9)

WEARISOME: An anagram (nervous) of OSMOSIS from which SOS is removed (issued by) goes inside (in) “your compiling team is” from their perspective (2,3). (Of course Elgar and Osmosis are on our compiling team)

8d     PTO for punchlines (3,3,5,4)

SEE THE FUNNY SIDE: Cryptic definition, suggesting the punchline might not become apparent until you turn over the page

15d     The point of an index? (9)

FINGERTIP: A cryptic definition that plays on point and index

16d    With regular absences from school, pass (3)

COL: Regular letters absent from ‘school’

18d    One year they expect to retain more than one such private investigator (3)

EYE: Double hidden (… to retain more than one such …)

20d    Inverted spear I put through just over three dumplings (7)

PIEROGI: A reversal of a verb meaning to spear plus I from the clue go inside (put through) an irrational constant with a value of just over three

21a Designate institution occupying Burlington house complex? (7)

ELECTRA: A word meaning designate, plus a 2-letter abbreviation for an institution occupying Burlington House

22d     Output from from sugar-making station includes CO2? (7)

BAGASSE: A station or headquarters contains (includes) a form of matter exemplified by CO2

23d    Nothing excited historian, so given marching orders (4,3)

THIN AIR: An anagram (excited) of HISTORIAN, from which SO is deleted (given marching orders)

27d    Went up a long way – and came down fast

SKIED: Two definitions, the second referring to a winter sport

My favourite today was ‘PTO for punchlines’, which took a while to twig. Which clues did you like?

19 comments on “Toughie 2968
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  1. I very much enjoyed the four long clues, but yes, especially 8d. Not being a card player I had never heard of 30a but it was readily guessable. I also very much liked 15d, which was one of my first in. That I had any at all in after the first quick run through was miraculous, and along with a slightly shorter time brings me down to 4* for difficulty. I needed Dutch’s help to parse 29a (shamefully failed to spot the Nina, as usual!) and 1d for the second word, so many thanks to him and, as always, to Elgar for a fun morning’s workout.

  2. I very quick solve for me for an Elgar, and for a change I also managed to parse everything. However, I needed lots of internet use to complete it. Took me a while to parse NAN, PIEROGI and TOSCANINI.

  3. Beaten by the dumplings and unsure of the parsing for 7d. I think 29a has to be my favourite, (just because it must be the first time I have spotted a Nina), along with 8d. The whole grid took me a while, but I got there in the end. Rewarding, enjoyable and tough. A great puzzle for a miserably grey afternoon.

    My thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  4. Enjoyed this difficult puzzle, but cannot see the nina. You may gather I am quite new to this posting lark. Can anyone help?

    1. Hi Gromsy & welcome. The only Nina I could see was not of the conventional type, but rather in 29a as the reversed “concealed message” within the overall answer to the clue. I’m sure that if there is another Nina in the puzzle overall someone would have mentioned it by now, so I hope that’s the one for this grid!

  5. Oooff, that was a proper end-of-week Toughie! Great clueing, some new (to me) words in 19a, 25a, 22d – but very gettable – with splendid wit and humour. The four long framework clues were very helpful though I “biffed” 1d and groaned when I read the explanation. In 4d the “I’m not sure” appeared superfluous but does indeed play a role in the clue – good red herring.

    Loved 12a – living for decades in Cornwall, married to a Cornish woman, this whole Cornish nationalism thing bugs the heck out of me, likewise the intentionally offensive description of tourists as emmets. So the answer’s not controversial for me! Latest census shows about 470 people out of 650,000 in the county speak Cornish “as their first language” (pish and rowlocks), and yet this latest devolution nonsense is in part intended to promote the use of the Cornish language. Good grief. [Here endeth the rant]

    Hon mentions also to 17a, 5d, 8d, 20d, but to be honest pretty much every clue could feature in that list.

    Many thanks to Elgar and to Dutch

  6. A couple of (thankfully correct) bung ins required to fill the grid. This started very slow and then picked up to a slow crawl. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  7. Very very good puzzle. No surprises, but a few new-to-me words. Parsing everything took me longer than filling the grid! From a stormy Force 8 day in the Eastern Cape. I always enjoy it when I agree with the reviewers assessment. 5/5

  8. Never heard of 2d,25a or 20d before, so a not surprising dnf ! Thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it though. Still don’t quite understand 28a. But many thanks to all for the challenge and advice .

    1. Welcome to the blog

      The second definition of own in Chambers Dictionary is ‘adjective and pronoun’ – belonging to oneself and no-one else’

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