Toughie No 2977 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 2977

Toughie No 2977 by Chalicea

Hints and Tips by StephenL

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

Hello everyone from a gloriously sunny and mild South Devon coast. As it’s my last blog before the “big day” I’d like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and festive period.

Chalicea occupies the Tuesday spot this week and a more gentle intro to the Toughie week one couldn’t wish for.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


9a In Rockall a mainly cud-chewing beast (5)
LLAMA: Hidden in the clue as indicated by the first word of the clue.

10a Bake grouse for Sunday dinner maybe (5,4)
ROAST BEEF: Follow a method of cooking with a synonym of grouse in the sense of grievance.

11a Let bank, by arrangement, cover (7)
BLANKET: Anagram (by arrangement) of the preceding two words

12a Thoroughly examine page in former traditional learning (7)
EXPLORE: The abbreviation for Page sits between the usual two letter synonym of former and some traditional learning or that passed down.

13a Bashful cat half consumed large rodent (5)
COYPU: A synonym of bashful or shy is followed by the first half of a cat that’s given its name to a well known sports brand…..or more likely an informal name for a cat you’ll see on Thursday back-page blogs.

14a Most of book is ultimately irrelevant for backup soldier (9)
RESERVIST: A synonym of book as a verb loses its last letter, IS from the clue and the final letter of irrelevanT.

16a Running amok two lasses in wood indulge in dissipation (3,4,4,4)
SOW ONES WILD OATS: Anagram (running amok) of the following four words

19a Formal meeting to lay to rest opinion (9)
INTERVIEW: A synonym of lay to rest in the sense of bury followed by an opinion or stance.

21a Shout of support about beginnings of very unusual reproductive structure (5)
OVULE: A Spanish exclamation of support goes around the initial letters of Very Unusual.

23a Arctic creature smuggled back west cheaply that’s oddly overlooked (7)
NARWHAL: A synonym of smuggled is reversed (back) and is followed by the abbreviation for West and the alternate letters of cHeApLy.

25a Part of organ heard but not initially odd (7)
EARDRUM; Remove the first letter of hEARD that the setter has very kindly gifted us and add a quaint synonym of odd or unusual.

27a Coasting sadly round lake longing for good old days (9)
NOSTALGIC: An anagram (sadly) of COASTING sits around the abbreviation for Lake.

28a Pea showing sign of life? (5)
PULSE: An edible seed of which a pea is an example is also a rhythmic throb that indicates one has a heartbeat.


1d Score of zero, bowled with ball in high, slow arc (4)
BLOB: The abbreviation for Bowled and and the type of ball described perfectly in the clue.

2d Unfortunately, upset railway workers strike over this (6)
SALARY: Reverse a synonym of unfortunately and add the usual 2-letter abbreviation for RailwaY or lines. A very smooth and topical clue and an &lit to boot.

3d Warm place to keep pot simmering, not requiring immediate attention (4,6)
BACK BURNER: This warm place can metaphorically mean to put something aside, postpone or give it low priority.

4d Depression of standard in credit (6)
CRATER: A synonym of standard in the sense of degree or grade sits inside the abbreviation for CrateR

5d Stir wake when travelling (5,3)
WATER SKI: Anagram (when travelling) of STIR WAKE giving a rather clever all in one where the whole clue is acting as definition and wordplay

6d A child’s toy in highest place (4)
ATOP: A from the clue and a child’s toy (not an iPad!)

7d Matador’s cape movement I watched essentially in Italian city (8)
VERONICA: I got this from wordplay and checkers. Insert I from the clue and the essential letter of watChed into an Italian city. Every day is a school day.

8d Behind given smack, producing sensation felt later (10)
AFTERTASTE: Synonyms of behind or following and smack in the sense of “this has a smack of unfairness” say.

13d Trying to protect kinky chignon I got cut by American (10)
CUSHIONING: Anagram (kinky) of CHIGNON and I into which is inserted one of the abbreviations for American.

15d Informative film for those working in a theatre? (10)
RADIOGRAPH. A cryptic definition, the theatre workers being in a hospital.

17d Insipid whiskey a primarily thirsty European regularly drains hot (8)
WATERISH: A bit (well a lot) of a Lego clue. The abbreviation for Whisky, A from the clue, the initial letter of Thirsty, the abbreviation for European and alternate letters (regularly) of dRaInS and the abbreviation for Hot.

18d With son in the lead plunders what is allowed to flow over (8)
SPILLAGE: A synonym of plunders or robs with the abbreviation for Son moved to the front (in the lead)

20d Young lass, it’s facetiously said, clutches right adjustable tool (6)
WRENCH: A derogatory and little heard these days name for a young woman is placed around (clutches) the abbreviation for Right.

22d A French game with half of Lyon following is turbulent (6)
UNRULY: Start with a French indefinite article, add the initials of a sport and the first half of LYon

24d Restore to good condition slope, we’re told (4)
HEAL: A homophone (we’re told) of a synonym of slope or list.

26d Bearing of one among members of workforce (4)
MIEN: Insert the letter that looks like the Roman numeral one into a synonym of workforce or staff


Thanks Chalicea, my winners are 2,5 and 15d. Which ones appealed to you?


19 comments on “Toughie No 2977
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  1. I will have to be somewhat at odds with our blogger as it seemed to me that, since her last appearance, Chalicea has ‘toughened up’ a bit – 2*/3.5*

    I needed e-help to confirm 7d and it took a long time to think of the correct theatre in 15d.

    Candidates for favourite – 19a, 28a, 6d, 18d, and 24d – and the winner is 28a.

    Thanks to Chalicea and Stephen L.

  2. A typically accessible and enjoyable puzzle from one of my favourite setters. The topical 2d was a particular favourite, along with 16 and 23a.

    My thanks to Chalicea, and to SL.

  3. New word for me in 7d and not one I’m ever likely to need – barbarous pastime.
    Ticks went to 28a for amusement value plus 2,8&15d.

    Thanks to Chalicea and to Stephen for the review. The very best of festive wishes to both of you.

  4. Well, I loved it all, as I usually do with this setter’s gifts to us, and this Christmas present was truly welcomed after a tough grind with the backpager today. 7d is my favourite because its derivation is potentially quite wonderful (depending on perhaps apocryphal origins: the biblical woman’s handing of the handkerchief to Jesus becoming–in a really wild transmogrification–the torero’s handling/passing of his cape, as a notable Spanish historian once informed me). Anyway, there you are. Many festive thanks to Stephen and a Merry Christmas as well, and many thanks to Chalicea for all of her blessings upon us this past year.

  5. Very enjoyable. Although I started off at read and write pace, I was left agreeing with Senf that our setter may have toughened up a bit here. 7d was new to me.

    Thanks to Chalicea and Stephen.

  6. Just right for a Tuesday as usual with Chalicea, I really enjoyed this one, with Mrs TWLC getting another mention. Favourite was 2d. Thanks to Chalicea and SL.

  7. Good Tuesday fare, light and amusing. Delayed by first writing in aftershock for 8d (well, it does parse) which made me question my subsequent answer for 14a, but other than 15d (new to me) it all went in very swiftly.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and to StephenL, both for today’s and this year’s puzzles and blogs: season’s greetings to you both.

  8. It looked like a write in but certainly wasn’t for me. I’m with Senf & Jonners in thinking this a bit tougher than usual. Last in was 7d & unfamiliar to me (barbarous thing indeed) where I could see both Genoa & Pisa coming into play before plumping for where the 2 gents came from. Top 2 for me the very topical 2d & 15d – the right theatre took longer than it ought to have to dawn on me too.
    Thanks to Chalicea for all the entertainment over the year & to Stephen for all of your excellent reviews.

  9. I really enjoyed this. With a friend and a plant named Veronica I had no idea of it’s other meaning.
    Lots to like but my COTD is 25a
    Stephen, have you told CS about the artistic lady who decorates bollards in Torquay? CS and I are used to knitters decorating pillar boxes.

    1. Hi JB
      No I haven’t but come to think of it I think I’ve seen one. Next time I’m passing (which I do quite regularly) I’ll take a picture and send it to Sue or post it on the blog. Funnily enough a friend sent me a picture of one yesterday but that was in Ely.

  10. 7d a rather odd definition (as noted) but an easy-peasy puzzle for a Toughie. As such, it’s perfect for a Tuesday I’d guess, though nary a peep out of my horses.

  11. Found this a bit more than a 1* for difficulty … more like 2.5* for me & 3* for enjoyment.

    Favourites include16a, 27a, 2d & 15d with winner 15d … and it took me a long time to figure it out too.
    13a & 26d were new words for me too.

    Thanks to Chalicea and StephenL for hints

  12. Thanks to Chalicia and to StephenL for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, much easier for me than the back-pager. I liked 24a, but my favourite was 5d. LOI was 7d. Was 3* /3* for me.

  13. Many thanks to Stephen L for the blogging and warm season’s wishes to all the friends on the blog. I am glad that my Tuesday, relatively gentle Toughies generally earn somewhere around the 2/3 difficulty range and more for the enjoyment. We have travelled all day today – ultimately on UK trains (three canceled before our last hope got us home when a driver was finally found) and solved the back-pager as part of the journey’s entertainment. We found most of it fairly gentle – just the north-east corner puzzling and I was relieved as I do think the Toughie should be sightly more challenging – even on a Tuesday.

    1. Thanks for popping in Chalicea, always appreciated and thanks for an enjoyable puzzle. I must have been bang on your wavelength today (doesn’t happen very often I can assure you!).
      Hope you both have a lovely Christmas and festive period

  14. Not that anyone is likely to read this……I saved this Chalicea delight for a day when there was an impossible back pager, today’s Zandio being just such a day. What a fine crossword this one was and a joy to solve. Thanks for restoring my confidence Chalicea!

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