Toughie 2980 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2980

Toughie No 2980 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I’m never quite sure what awaits me with proXimal, so I was quite happy this was not overly difficult. A very enjoyable puzzle with smooth clues

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Lady in cast hugging partner excitedly (10)
ANIMATEDLY: An anagram (cast) of LADY IN contains (hugging) another word for partner

6a    Regulate temperature for home (4)
SETT: A word meaning to regulate plus the abbreviation for temperature

9a    Bather in river (5)
HIPPO: A word meaning ‘in’ and an Italian river
















10a    Called uninitiated mischievous swimmer (9)
ANGELFISH: A word for called (on the phone) without the first letter (uninitiated), plus another word for mischievous


12a    Serious doctor caught consuming alcohol (7)
DRASTIC: The abbreviations for doctor and caught contain (consuming) a white sparkling alcoholic beverage

13a    Son held back from bad writing stroke (5)
CRAWL: Some 6-letter bad handwriting without (held back) the initial abbreviation for son

15a    After hour working, ogled sweet (7)
HONEYED: The abbreviation for hour, a short word meaning working, then a word meaning ogled

16a    Toppled, as unperched hen did? (4,3)
LAID LOW: Such a hen would have produced eggs not quite so high up

18a    Charlie with way embodying relaxation is not pressed (7)
CREASED: The letter with radio code Charlie and the abbreviation for a kind of way contain (embodying) a word for relaxation

20a    Opinion about chocolate bar is neither here nor there (7)
BETWIXT: An opinion or guess goes about a chocolate bar brand name (derived from twin bix)

21a    Plant bulb uncovered back beside peg (5)
LUPIN: A reversal (back) of (b)UL(b) with the outer letters removed (uncovered), plus another word for peg

23a    Index of returned books with spines occasionally absent (7)
FOOTSIE: A reversal (returned) of OF from the clue, some biblical books, and the odd (occasionally removed) letters of ‘spines’

25a    Wacky bunch in small party (9)
SCREWBALL: A bunch of people go in between (in) the abbreviation for small and a dancing party

26a    Moving past irritable hosts (5)
ASTIR: Hidden ( … hosts)

27a    Sound of discontent down in auditorium chamber (4)
SILO: A homophone (in auditorium) of both a sound of discontent and a word meaning down

28a    King muttered vexedly holding learner instrument (10)
KETTLEDRUM: The chess/cards abbreviation for king, then an anagram (vexedly) of MUTTERED containing (holding) the abbreviation for learner


1d    This long stuffing cod to get trained (4)
ACHE: If you put this answer meaning ‘long’ inside (stuffing) COD from the clue, you will get a word meaning ‘trained’

2d    Obstacle that is restraining politician with sequence of steps (9)
IMPEDANCE: The abbreviation for ‘that is’ containing (restraining) a politician, then a ‘sequence of steps’

3d    Cosplay with weapon recreated war film (10,3)
APOCALYPSE NOW: An anagram (recreated) of COSPLAY + WEAPON

4d    Praised officer under fire after upsetting journalist (7)
EXALTED: An abbreviation for an officer follows a reversal (after upsetting) of a word meaning to fire, then the abbreviation for a chief journalist

5d    Sound from American serving in bar (7)
LOGICAL: An ‘American serving’ goes inside (in) a bar or pub

7d    Woman providing account, anger mounting (5)
ERICA: A reversal (mounting) of an abbreviation for account and another word for anger

8d    I don’t care about how the till broke (2,4,4)
TO HELL WITH: An anagram (broke) of HOW THE TILL

11d    Large one, coat mother abandoned — take off coach (4,4,5)
LICK INTO SHAPE: The abbreviation for large, the Roman numeral for one, then a 10-letter coat from which the starting MA is missing (mother abandoned), and a word meaning to take off or copy

14d    Read aloud European composer’s inventories (10)
CHECKLISTS: A homophone (read aloud) of both European and composer’s

17d    City castle ice sternly covers (9)
LEICESTER: Hidden (… covers)

19d    Collapse of French female no longer with us (7)
DEFLATE: The French word for ‘of’, the abbreviation for female, and a word meaning ‘no longer with us’

20d    Document deer climbing inside part of vehicle (7)
BOOKLET: Reversal (climbing) of a 3-letter deer goes inside a rear part of a car

22d    Danger from cleaner scrubbing head of scythe (5).
PERIL: Take a 6-letter brand of cleaner and remove (scrubbing) the first letter (head) of scythe

24d    Walk for miles (4)
PROM: A word meaning for and the abbreviation for miles

A lot to like. I enjoyed the tricky short clues, bather and walk. I thought ‘serving in bar’ was lovely, as was ‘how the till broke’. My favourite is the war film – great anagram. Which clues did you like?

15 comments on “Toughie 2980
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  1. With apologies to Zandio but this was much more my cup of rosy & a delight from start to a finish that was much quicker than the back-pager. I suspect the majority would have happily seen the slots swapped. The 2 biggest head scratches for me were the pesky 4 letter ones at 6&27a but the pennies dropped. Coppola’s over budget epic at 3d was my first in (along with Coming Home & The Deer Hunter one of a trio of great late 70s Nam movies) but never come across cosplay before. Couldn’t pick a fav – I liked ‘em all.
    Thanks to proXimal for all the puzzles over the year & to Elgar for his reviewing

  2. I found this a tad easier than the backpager today, with some most enjoyable clues. I particularly enjoyed 5d and 16a. The whole grid was a joy, elegant and fun.

    Thanks proXimal and Dutch.

  3. I completely agree with the ratings.
    Thanks for clearing up 23a, I was puzzled as to how flirty behaviour under the table was an index.
    I liked 8d, 11d , and 14d 20a.
    Thanks to ProXimal and Dutch.

  4. Entirely as forecast in my comments on the Backpager . Much easier and miles more enjoyable . What’s not to like about 9a,16a and 20a , to name but three. When is the Editor going to get a grip on relative difficulties ? Just a joke at the moment . Many thanks to Proximal and Dutch .**/*****

  5. One of the rare events for me–what a joyful Christmas present!–an unaided proXimal Toughie finish! 6 & 27a were my last two to fall, and both deserve special niches in the setter’s pantheon of great clues. Like Huntsman, I’m hard put to single out the winners because I loved them all, but I will award two Clarkies to 20 & 23a for making me smile and chortle at the same time. Thank you and a very Merry Christmas to both Dutch and proXimal, with the very best wishes for a Happy New Year.

  6. Such a relief to come over to Toughieland today – and it also gives me the opportunity to deliver the very best of festive wishes to our Friday blogger.
    Most enjoyable puzzle and my ticks went to 9,20&25a plus 5&19d.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to Dutch – hope you both have a really good time over Christmas.

  7. Much more accessible than today’s stupidly difficult back-pager and a joy to solve **/****. CL really needs to sort this out.

  8. It all went together in reasonable time for us.
    Quality clues throughout that were a pleasure to solve.
    Thanks proXimal and Dutch.

  9. Loved this, great puzzle from a master setter. Actually took me less time than the back pager (not the first time it’s happened this week but absolutely no complaints).
    Smiles all over the grid 9,16,20&23a plus 5d foremost amongst them Good stuff indeed.
    Many thanks and season’s greetings to ProXimal and Dutch.

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