Toughie 2979 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2979

Toughie No 2979 by Silvanus
Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Silvanus has given a fun-filled puzzle with some seasonal references. Many thanks to him for this and for all his enjoyable puzzles throughout the year.

Since this is my last pre-Christmas blog may I extend seasonal greetings to all our setters, fellow bloggers, commenters and our many lurkers (now would be a good time to introduce yourselves!).

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a About to visit kid performing with twin tonight in pantomime (4,11)
DICK WHITTINGTON: insert a single-letter abbreviation for about into an anagram (performing) of KID TWIN TONIGHT.

9a Leaving rear of plane, prod Eric to disentangle this! (7)
RIPCORD: an anagram (disentangle) of PROD [e]RIC without the rear letter of plane.

10a Touring Portugal, wine, say, to which guy becomes attached? (4,3)
TENT PEG: around the IVR code for Portugal place a red wine from an adjacent country and the abbreviation for ‘say’.

11a The Crown in Ilkley names footballer as landlord (9)
INNKEEPER: assemble the top letter (crown) of Ilkley, two occurrences of the abbreviation for name and a footballer.

12a Brewery agent still maintains a silence initially (5)
YEAST: a synonym of still contains A and the initial letter of silence.

13a Fashionable western city, somewhere to immerse oneself? (3,4)
HIP BATH: an adjective meaning fashionable or trendy and a city in Somerset. I originally had a different 3-letter word for fashionable until 14d became impossible.

15a Barium and chlorine entering river causes disaster (7)
DEBACLE: insert the chemical symbols for the two elements into a named river (of which there are several in the UK).

17a Christmas delay heading west in vessel (7)
GALLEON: join together words for Christmas and delay and reverse what you have.

19a Writes down achievements that are unsurpassed (7)
RECORDS: double definition.

21a Good old Andrew seen occasionally in woodland clearing (5)
GLADE: the abbreviation for good followed by occasional letters from ‘old Andrew’.

23a Witness Laurel possibly wearing American hat when cycling (9)
BYSTANDER: the forename of comedian Laurel goes inside a North American word for a bowler hat with its last two letters cycled round to the front.

25a Whether court case imprisons four or six, it’s insignificant (7)
TRIVIAL: a court case with the Roman numeral for either four or six inserted.

26a Liquid coolant in barely dangerous solid form (3,4)
ICE CUBE: what you may use to cool your G&T comes from an informal word for dangerous without its outer letters and a solid geometrical form.

27a Strange spell, it’s cast over time against king in fairy tale (15)
RUMPELSTILTSKIN: string together an adjective meaning strange or odd, an anagram (cast) of SPELL ITS containing the abbreviation for time, the chess abbreviation for king and IN.

Down Clues

1d Ascetic leader Vishnu will protect (7)
DERVISH: hidden in the clue.

2d Dressed like Superman, is said to be chicken? (5)
CAPON: this sounds like (as 4,2) dressed like Superman.

3d Extensive pit retained by Wales somehow (9)
WHOLESALE: a pit or hollow is contained in an anagram (somehow) of WALES.

4d Detailed current area of responsibility, supported by husband (2-5)
IN-DEPTH: rivet together an adjective meaning current or fashionable, the abbreviation for a division of a larger organisation and the genealogical abbreviation for husband.

5d Express disapproval over socialist being disciplined (7)
TUTORED: concatenate a verb to express disapproval, the cricket abbreviation for over and an adjective used to mean socialist.

6d French city’s new for primarily callow au pair (5)
NANNY: start with a city in North-Eastern France and replace the primary letter of callow with the abbreviation for new.

7d Stroke upset reindeer, one making sound with hooves? (3-6)
TAP-DANCER: reverse a verb to stroke or caress and add one of Santa’s reindeer.

8d Garment that is dark to begin with (7)
NIGHTIE: the abbreviation for ‘that is’ is preceded by a word meaning dark.

14d Element of total bill I’m up for resolving outside (9)
PALLADIUM: a synonym of total and an abbreviated bill or poster with an anagram (for resolving) of I’M UP outside them.

16d Capital of Cuba others sadly love to escape (9)
BUCHAREST: an anagram (sadly) of CUBA [o]THERS after our usual letter representing love has absconded.

17d Wise guy from America ignores northern comedian (7)
GAGSTER: wise guy is an American term for a member of the Mafia (not a usage I knew). We need another word for such a person with the abbreviation for northern removed.

18d Point to student tucking into mostly cream snacks (7)
NIBBLES: the point of a writing implement is followed by our usual abbreviated student inside a superlative meaning cream without its final letter.

19d Kevin is sorry over employing barman (7)
ROSSINI: hidden in reverse.

20d Theatre worker mentioned to some: “Break a leg” (7)
SURGEON: although the answer was clear from the definition and checkers this took me some time to parse as I assumed wrongly that the last two letters were the crickety ‘leg’. In fact I think the whole answer is meant to be a homophone of a verb to break a leg of a journey with a temporary stopover. The time I took on this clue made me add half a star to my difficulty rating. [Ignore my attempted explanation – Silvanus has given the correct parsing at comment #8].

22d Pick second item from menu, low in calories (5)
ELITE: the second letter in menu and an adjective meaning ‘low in calories’.

24d Tight knot around end of thread above (5)
DRUNK: a knot on a tree is reversed and has the last letter of thread above it.

The clues I liked best were 10a, 25a and 26a. Which one(s) did you go forl?

34 comments on “Toughie 2979

  1. As I said on the back-page blog I thought this was huge fun with smiles throughout the grid.
    Good to see our esteemed blogger made the same initial error as me re the first word of 13a, I strongly suspect we won’t be alone. I (eventually) parsed 20d as the break too, very clever and I note the setter has caveated it with “to some”.
    I have so many podium contenders that are falling off the edge but I’ll restrict myself to choosing 10a as favourite with 23a and 2d keeping it company.
    Many thanks to Silvanus and Gazza for the top-notch entertainment and season’s greetings to both.

  2. What an absolute cracker of a Toughie. Parsing some of the clues turned this into a real challenge, but it was huge fun from start to finish. I got it all nailed apart from working out why the obvious answer for 20d was what it had to be, having grappled with “leg” = “on” to no avail. Sadly, I am none the wiser after reading Gazza’s explanation that a homophone is involved. :sad:

    A couple of things I didn’t know were the American meaning of “wise guy” in 17d (a pat on the back to the setter for clearly inidcating the provenance), and the knot in 24d.

    I wouldn’t know where to begin in picking a favourite from such a superb selection.

    Many thanks to Silvanus and to Gazza.

    1. I, eventually, decided that the 20a answer was a “homophone” of sojourn (to take a break during a leg of a journey). I’m willing to accept that I might be wrong.

      1. I can’t think of any other explanation but if you are right, Gazza, that’s dreadful. Normally you and I differ in our opinion about homophones but I think this specific case has united us. :yes:

      1. I did consider ‘Sir John’ (and it’s a better homophone than ‘sojourn’) but unless ‘break a leg’ was Gielgud’s nickname i can’t see how that works.

  3. Somewhat surprisingly I found much of this less convoluted than the back pager today. I loved the whole Christmassy theme and the feel good factor on completion, a rare event for me with the Toughie. I always have a go, but rarely get beyond half way. I just needed help sorting out 17d and 24d. I wouldn’t normally choose a lurker for my favourite, but I liked the misdirection at 19d and it took a while for the penny to drop. Thanks to Silvanus for the enjoyment and Gazza for the hints and amusing pics.

    1. Agreed too! I rarely touch the toughie either but I found today’s approachable with lots of fun and the seasonal clues were great :)

  4. As most people know I struggle with Toughies and they are winning the battle, I really enjoyed this battle(which I won), does anyone know if we are getting a double toughie this year? I like to torture myself and if so will it be on the old website? just in case Merry Christmas to everyone.

    Stay safe and keep on solving

    1. No double Toughie this year as a result of the new puzzles site not being able to cope with PDFs :(

  5. Great puzzle, everything that todays Ray T is not. Clever elegant clues well laid out without any weirdness.
    Give me a Silvanus any day. Best clue for me was 12a.
    Thx to all

  6. This was a breath of fresh air after yesterday’s dnf although I needed the hints to parse 26a, 20d and 24d as the’ knot’ was a new word for me, I know it now. I also fell into the ‘hot’ trap. Favourite was 25a. Thanks to Silvanus and Gazza.

  7. Another absolute gem from my favourite setter. Add me to those in the wrong bath to start with but quickly relocated to the right one. I hadn’t a clue as to the parsing of 20d. I assumed mentioned indicated a homophone but couldn’t see one (I like Stan’s thought) & the best I could come up with was break = surge (tidal) + leg as on which I knew was nonsense. Ticks in abundance – if forced to pick a top 3 I’d plump for 25&26a with 2d just pipping 7d&10a in a tight photo for third place. A seasonal thumbs up for from Brian too.
    Thanks to Silvanus for all his consistently splendid puzzles over the year & to Gazza for all of his reviews. Happy Christmas both.
    Ps anyone doing/done battle with Paul in the Graun – I’m not getting far very slowly.

    1. So, your idea wasn’t nonsense after all, Huntsman. Just as well because I went down the same route!

  8. Hi everyone,

    I thought I’d pop in a little earlier than I had intended, so as to clarify the parsing of 20d. One of the definitions of “surge” in the BRB is a (large) wave, and another synonym of that is a “breaker”. So it is a homophone (to some) of “breaker” plus the cricketing equivalent of “leg”. I hope that clears things up. One again, I’ve qualified the homophone indicator as an acknowledgement to those for whom the homophone doesn’t work!

    Thank you to Gazza for his Hints and Tips today and for all of my Toughies during 2022 (Thursday now seems to be my regular designated day) and to all those who have left such warm comments. May I wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and I hope to see you all again on a Thursday early in 2023. I seem to recall Smylers is a resident of Ilkley, so maybe he could recommend The Crown (in 11a) if any of us are in the area?!

    1. Thanks for popping in, Silvanus, and for clarifying 20d. I look forward to more of your Toughies in 2023.

    2. Many thanks for popping in and for a truly first class crossword. I am very relieved by your explanation for 20d as I really couldn’t imagine you trying to make sojourn a homophone for surgeon!

  9. What brilliant entertainment and such a delight to solve. I will pick 25a as a favourite but in truth it could have been any of the classy clues on offer.

    My thanks and Christmas Greetings to Silvanus and Gazza. Thanks to you both for all the great puzzles and blogs over the course of the year.

  10. Super puzzle despite my hiccough over the 13a bathtub – I have my doubts that you could immerse very much of yourself in the actual answer!
    Really enjoyed all the Christmas references and learnt something new in 24d.
    Double tick list comprises 11,12&17a plus 7d but I could just as easily have opted for several others.

    Many thanks to Silvanus for another excellent compilation and the same goes to Gazza for his review and festive cartoon selection – the very best of seasonal wishes to both of you.

  11. My first completed toughie left me hugely satisfied! There were certainly a number of clues that I needed help with the parsing but overall a fun and humorous solve.

    Oddly I needed less hints for this one than the back-pager today!

    TY to Silvanas and Gazza

  12. I also had the “alternative” answer for 13a. I bunged in 20d but grateful for Silvanus’ parsing.

    Highly enjoyable, especially as I haven’t been solving for a few weeks (no reason).

    Thanks to Gazza for the blog and to Silvanus.

  13. When we were correcting our initial entry for 13a we made the comment, “Bet we’re not the only ones to do that”. It looks like we were right.
    A real pleasure to solve.
    No way can we pick a favourite from so many excellent clues.
    Thanks Silvanus and Gazza.

    1. Wonder if I was only one to get out of a tin bath (pre 1d) & into a hot one before finding the right one for a soak

      1. So did I. And Tullurium almost fitted as the element 14d until I spotted my mistake thanks to 21a

  14. How unlucky! Almost finished but can’t get 22d for the life of me.
    There seems to be a hint missing in this otherwise lovely crossword from Silvanus.
    Ticked 5d, a smooth charade. I love charades.
    Thanks to Silvanus and in advance to Gazza for parsing 22d for me.

  15. What a great puzzle! We have been truly spoilt today.
    I was also in hot water for a while at 13a, but it never seemed right at the time.
    I loved 25a. Quite brilliant.
    Thank you Silvanus and Gazza.

  16. I guessed right–mirabile dictu!–on ‘surge on!’ for 20d. Hooray! That rather softens the blow I took when ‘hip bath’ had to replace my (sure-as-certain) first answer, and so I struggled to locate that element in 14d, but I got there finally in the end. (Well, I had never heard of a hip bath but I certainly could use one for my arthritic joints today.) What a great and brilliant way for Silvanus to give us all such a welcomed Christmas present, eh? Impossible for me to pick a favourite but I did chuckle a bit at 17d and 10a. I’ll just be old-fashioned and say I loved it all. Many thanks, with best wishes to Silvanus and Gazza for the holidays.

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