Toughie No 2973 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 2973

Toughie No 2973 by Dada

Hints and tips by StephenL

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Hello everyone from a mercifully milder than of late South Devon coast.

Tuesday rolls around again and Dada kicks off the Toughie week with a fun puzzle designed warm our hearts if not our bodies.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a Rattle in store I’d shaken (9)
DISORIENT: Anagram (shaken) of the preceding three words. I had to think for a moment which was the definition and which was the indicator here.

8a Set of individual duties and responsibilities initially rejected (5)
RADIO: A first letters clue, (much favoured by this setter and Ray T) but reversed (initially and rejected).

10a Bill’s partner fired up, calm down! (4,2)
COOL IT: I think Bill’s partner is a reference to a 1940’s film and it’s followed by a synonym of fired up in the sense of ignited .

11a Items of underwear — are those currently uplifting? (8)
THERMALS: These items of underwear that I suspect are popular at the moment are also upward currents of warm air.

12a School that’s dragged through the dirt (6)
HARROW: Double definition, the less obvious one being a heavy farming implement used to plough fields.

14a Crack glass vessel (6)
RETORT: Another double definition (Dada certainly loves them!) one a witty reply (crack) the other a vessel used in a lab.

16a Plane, say, in thoroughfare, wings sheared off (4)
TREE: Remove the outer letters of a thoroughfare.

17a Reportedly, chaps in front (5)
GUISE: A homophone (reportedly) of some men, the front being a pretense or outward appearance.

18a Destroyed a large amount of America (4)
SLEW: Double definition, the second more common in the US (of America) though I’m certainly familiar with it here, the indicator providing some nice misdirection.

19a One of twelve, impressive (6)
AUGUST: Double definition, the less obvious being an adjective with the stress on the second syllable when spoken

21a Now, mummy, mummy! (3-3)
TUT TUT: The “now” here is a mild expression of disapproval, the mummy an Egyptian reference. I rather liked this one.

24a Shirt and tie, for example, seen with warm pants (8)
MENSWEAR: Anagram (pants) of SEEN and WARM

26a Mournful sitter modelled (6)
TRISTE: Anagram (modelled) of SITTER

27a One carrying King’s head girl (5)

PENNY: Double definition. Does anyone use these nowadays and is anyone called it?

28a Overturned gripping instrument, neat (9)
UNDILUTED: A synonym of overturned, as an act may be “grips” or goes around a stringed instrument.


1d Start breaking metal cross (5)
TIGON: A 2-letter synonym of start is inserted into (breaking) a metal. The cross isn’t worn around the neck or seen in a church!

2d Distribution of coca leaf in area of hard labour (8)
COALFACE: Anagram (distribution of) the following two words. I suppose the solution can be literal or metaphorical.

3d Siberian drink (6)

BITTER: Straightforward (and very topical!) double definition.


4d Combine egg, did you say? (4)
KNIT: A homophone of the egg of a parasitic insect. My last one in.

5d Feline animal served up for rodent (6)
MARMOT: A reversal (served up) of an informal name for a cat and a male sheep (with his bits intact!)

6d During troublesome period, evil mocked (9)
PILLORIED: A synonym of evil sits inside an anagram (troublesome) of PERIOD

9d Order always set up after month (6)
DECREE: A literary or poetic contraction of “ever” (always) follows an abbreviated month (the one we’re in now!)

13d Bridge player transformed this game of cards (5)
WHIST: A player in bridge plus an anagram (transformed) of THIS.

15d Revolutionary routes communist took (9)
TROUSERED: An anagram (revolutionary) of ROUTES plus one of our usual communists. For some reason I smiled at this.

17d Drawn — but emotionally defeated? (6)
GUTTED: Double definition

18d Documentary evidence of debt concealed by team, bogus (8)
SPURIOUS: Our usual 3-letter acronym indicating a debt sits inside (concealed by) a (football) side. One for the big man!

20d Like bear furs in enormous boxes (6)
URSINE: A (rather good) lurker as indicated by “boxes”

22d Scrap pecked by bird (6)
TITBIT: A 3-letter bird and the past tense of a synonym of peck.

23d Blade appropriate, we hear? (5)
STEEL: A homophone (we hear) of a synonym of appropriate in its verbal sense.

25d Step ladder good (4)
RUNG: A ladder (in a pair of tights?) and the abbreviation for Good.

My winners today are 18&21a plus 15d. Which ones raised your spirits?



16 comments on “Toughie No 2973
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  1. Just the ticket for a Tuesday Toughie! Nicely challenging and great fun with too many excellent clues to pick a favourite.

    Many thanks to Dada and to SL.

  2. Great fun – thanks to Dada and StephenL.
    I had to scribble over my confidently-entered initial 3d answer of ‘arctic’ when it transpired that ‘drink’ here wasn’t an informal way of referring to an ocean.
    I had lots of ticks including 1d, 17d and 18d but my favourite has to be 21a.

  3. A very accessible and pleasingly challenging puzzle that ticked all the right boxes. Like our blogger, 4d was my final entry, and the super lurker @ 20d was my favourite.

    Thanks to Dada for the fun, and to SL.

  4. Found this a great deal tougher than previous commenters and our blogger seem to have done but I did enjoy the battle.
    Top three for me were 12a plus 4&17d.

    Thanks to Dada and to Stephen for the review.

  5. Well beaten with this one. The NE (5&6d plus 11&14a) impenetrable until I revealed 3 checkers. Can’t say pilloried for mocked would have been the first synonym to spring to mind (mine anyway) but ought to have pegged the right 3 letter evil & I’d not heard of a glass retort either. Unforgivably I couldn’t even think of the underwear despite having the first 2 checkers in & wearing the chuffing things. I still required Stephen for 1d&27a (where the pics immediately gave me the answer without needing to read the hint) & to understand the context of America in 18a.
    Still enjoyed it despite the drubbing. 21a my fav but plenty of ticks elsewhere
    Thanks to Dada & Stephen

  6. I loved this. Had several goes at it but got to the end except for 18a. Loved the misdirection on so many clues. Enjoyed 21a.
    Thanks to Dada and SL

  7. Struggled through but found it a slog. Probably not helped by having to get up at ridiculous o’clock because of the rail strike. 21a made me smile.

    Thanks to Dada and SL.

  8. I found this Dada Toughie to be far easier than any of Paul’s puzzles in the Guardian. About the same level of difficulty as his Sunday offerings.

    ps. 27a Here is Paul McCartney in Penny Lane.

  9. A great Dada which I finished all on my own last night just before caving when ‘pilloried’ came to my rescue and ‘radio’ fell as my LOI. What a satisfying feeling as I have lately felt a sense of the inexorable backsliding of my age, but not so last night! I chuckled when 4d hit me, laughed out loud at 21a (my favourite), and was greatly delighted at the wit and economy of the clues, which reminded me of another favourite compiler who appears later this week. Thanks to Stephen and Dada.

  10. I just thought this was a bit dull and quite hard going. I’ve clearly lost my sense of humour in the Wiltshire snow . Maybe a few longer clues would have helped? **/** for me.

  11. A star up from the usual Tuesday Toughie start to the week , last one in was 1d, my parsing was that the animal cross was an – anagram of the breaking of a metal INGOT which did’nt quite work- thanks to SL for putting me on the straight and narrow! also the spot on pics.
    Going for a ***/***, lots os excellent clues-thanks to setter for a pleasant afternoon.

    1. Hi Beaver
      Pleased that you liked the pictures, I thought they were good too!
      Just for future reference your interpretation of the parsing of 1d would involve an indirect anagram….these are considered unfair to solvers and are not allowed in Telegraph crosswords.

  12. The two clues that delayed our completion were in the NE and SW, 8a and 27a. Both eventually yielded with great 27a-drop moments.
    A real pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Dada and SL.

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