Toughie 2978 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2978

Toughie No 2978 by Gila

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

A proper Wednesday Toughie from Gila

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1a    People who are pretty bored by quiet sporting contests (3-4)
CUP-TIES A slang name for pretty people into which is inserted (bored by) the musical abbreviation for quiet

5a    Plant‘s automated software actually needs internet connectivity to start (7)
BOTANIC Some automated computer software designed to perform routine tasks and the letters that start Actually Needs Internet Connectivity

9a    In defeat, each boy shows resolve (6,3)
REASON OUT Insert into an utter defeat the abbreviation for each and a male child (boy)

10a    Woman from somewhere overseas leaving before lunch (5)
ERICA “Somewhere overseas” being a large country on the other side of the Atlantic  without (leaving) the Latin abbreviation for morning (before lunch)

11a    A source of protein gathered from a particular place (4)
AWAY A (from the clue) and a homophone (gathered) of a source of protein found in milk

12a    Work begins here for scientist (10)
HEISENBERG An anagram (work) of BEGINS HERE

13a    Weird, bold, tousled — like an 80s hairstyle (4-5)
BLOW-DRIED An anagram (tousled) of WEIRD BOLD

16a    Crack American involved in motor race (3)
GAP The abbreviation for American ‘involved’ or inserted into an abbreviated motor race

19a    Vegetable from can getting sent back (3)
YAM A reversal (getting sent back) of a question similar in meaning to ‘can’ – although we can all hear our mothers saying ‘yes you can but xxx you?’

20a    Fees come from primarily helping others and not work performed solo (9)
HONORARIA The primary letters of Helping Others, a conjunction meaning and not, and a musical work performed by one singer

22a    I use the last bit of sourdough with bland, processed cheese (6,4)
DANISH BLUE An anagram (processed) of I USE, H (the last bit of sourdough) with BLAND

25a    Actors in a musical switching a couple of parts (4)
CAST Switch the last two letters in a well-known musical

27a    Furniture made from teak bulges in odd places (5)
TABLE The odd letters in TeAk BuLgEs

28a    Group welcoming Conservative, heretical bigot (9)
SECTARIAN A group ‘welcoming’ the abbreviation for Conservative and a person adhering to a particular heretical doctrine

29a    Substitute always upset about the general situation (7)
RELIEVE A reversal (although ‘upset’ is normally used as an indicator in a Down clue) of a synonym for always, into which is inserted a synonym for a general situation

30a    Expert press writing (3,4)
DAB HAND To press gently and a style of writing


1d    Palm frond occasionally found in two areas in part of the Caribbean (8)
CARNAUBA The occasional letters of fRoNd inserted between two abbreviations for Area, the result inserted into an island republic in the Caribbean

2d    Appeasing point abruptly presented by a politician (9)
PLACATORY Almost all (abruptly) of a point or position followed by A (from the clue) and an abbreviated member of a particular political party

3d    Hero left after statement of intent to stay loyal? (4)
IDOL The abbreviation for left goes after a statement of intent to stay loyal made by someone at a marriage ceremony

4d    Swimmers identified by those fins, possibly (9)
STONEFISH An anagram (possibly) of THOSE FINS

5d    Accepts an incentive: snacks (5)
BITES Accepts something offered as bait or some small snacks

6d    King’s daughter rising in support of sweet adolescent (9)
TWEENAGER A reversal (rising) of the name of a daughter of a Shakespearian King goes after (in support of in a Down solution) an informal adjective meaning sweet

7d    Wound up ignoring large commotion (5)
NOISE A reversal (up) of a medical term for a wound without (ignoring) the abbreviation for large

8d    Financial investor mostly pursuing cold hard cash? (6)
CHANGE Most of an informal term for a financial investor, especially one who finances theatrical ventures, ‘pursuing’ or going after the abbreviations for Cold and Hard

4d    Syrian noblewoman guarding tower endlessly (9)
DAMASCENE A noblewoman ‘guarding’ or going round a truncated verb meaning to tower or rise up

15d    Condemned study said ultimately to carry little weight (9)
DENOUNCED Insert (to carry) a small weight between a study and the ultimate letter of said

17d    A type of bread covered with a lot of fish for each person (3,6)
PER CAPITA A (from the clue) and a type of bread ‘covered by’ or going under in a Down solution, almost all of a type of fish

18d    FBI agent hiding a gun was a fixer? (8)
FASTENED An FBI agent ‘hiding’ both A (from the clue) and a submachine gun

21d    Leader in charge of leaders? (6)
EDITOR This leader works for a newspaper and writes leading articles

23d    Name of prize book appearing in the Christmas period (5)
NOBEL The abbreviation for Book ‘appearing’ in the Christmas period

24d    Beat poet’s final piece acquired by foundation (5)
BASTE The final piece of poeT ‘acquired’ by a foundation

26d    Dog swallows minute creature (4)
LAMB A familiar name for a particular breed of dog ‘swallows’ the abbreviation for minute


21 comments on “Toughie 2978
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  1. Super puzzle which I really enjoyed, just right for mid week. Too many great clues to pick a winner.

    Thanks to Gila and CS.

  2. A very decent midweek Toughie – thanks to Gila and CS.
    I was a bit uncertain about 12a.
    Top clues for me were 3d, 7d and 8d.

  3. I thought this was a notch up in difficulty from this setter’s usual offerings but as enjoyable as ever
    Amazingly I’d never heard of 6d nor 20a but fiddled around with wordplay and checkers then confirmed. 1d also new and I admit to bunging in 7d.
    Today’s winners in a strong field are19a plus 8d with top spot shared by the clever and amusing 1a&17d.
    Many thanks and season’s greetings to to Gila and to Sue for the blog (I think you have one more before the “big day”!).

  4. Defeated by 11a and had to come here for a hint (thank you, CS), but a very good, very Wednesday, Toughie – thank you Gila. So many cracking clues throughout, with great surface reads, constructions and precision – where a word was unfamiliar (1d) the clueing was entirely fair if the instructions were followed (and checkers in place!). Particularly liked the combined surface reads and answers of 4d and 22a.

  5. Beaten by 10a [ which with the odd letters in , I thought might be the lady from the World Cup winners ] and 1d , which I confess I’ve never heard of . Excellent hidden lurkers – 10 and 22a- and enjoyed 20a. ***/*** many thanks to all for an enjoyable solve and hints .

  6. That was a real battle for me but I’m delighted to report that I have emerged triumphant.
    Long tick list comprising 1,22&30a plus 3,8,17&21d.

    Thanks to Gila and to CS for the review – hope you’ve found time to get your own Christmas organised in between all these crossword reviews!

  7. A decent brain mangler for a Wednesday, tough but scrupulously fair. I was going to cop out of choosing a favourite, but having reread the clues I think 13a and 8d take the top spot.

    My thanks to Gila for the challenge and to CS for this and all her blogs during the course of the year.

  8. I have almost always enjoyed Gila’s puzzles as challenging and good fun. However, having solved one of his in a different earlier today and not enjoyed it, I approached this one with trepidation. I needn’t have worried. Yes, it was tough, but it was really good with perhaps the single exception of 26d, which I thought was a little weak.

    1a, my favourite, made a great start to proceedings, and along the way I had a lot of ticks with double ticks for 20a, 22a, 3d, 17d & 18d.

    I started out my business life as development chemist for a paint company, and the wax from 1d was often used in our formulations to improve the mar resistance of the coating.

    Many thanks to Gila and to CS.

  9. I only managed half of this before resorting to the hints. I found it a strange mixture of the obscure and straightforward
    Incidentally, when did 13a become limited to the 80’s? Most ladies have one weekly!

  10. This was a slow moving venomous lizard of a puzzle – a monster of ***** difficulty for me. Nothing in the least amazing about the fact that I was unfamiliar with the theoretical physicist, the wax, the 10-14yr old or the nominal payment. Under the circumstances delighted to get within 1 of a finish with no letter reveals though with occasional use of the check facility which revealed the need for a correction en route (Simon wasn’t the only one to think Evita – doh) & a couple unparsed. Like MG I threw in the towel at 11a (nowhere close)
    Thanks to Gila & CS for all of her reviews & hard work this year.

  11. We were ultimately beaten by 11a. Not sure that the clue is quite correct as we thought that whey was the watery part that is left when the protein as separated out as curds.
    But perhaps that’s just grumpiness at being beaten.
    Thoroughly enjoyed everything else though with plenty of chuckles along the way (whey).
    Thanks Gila and CS.

  12. Wasn’t this just brilliant? And didn’t I fall flat on my face with 1a and 11a?! Never heard of 1a (nothing like that in these backwater colonies) and how are we supposed to know or even guess at ‘whey’ when the field is wide open there? But all grumpiness aside, I did love the challenge last night and came within a hair of an unblemished finish. Just a niggle about ‘sectarian’, which I got early on: isn’t that quite a bit of a stretch? I think that 12a is my favourite not only because the wordplay is so clever but because the play (the drama) by your brilliant playwright Simon Stephens is even more brilliant than the clue. Thanks and the very best of the season to CS and Gila.

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