Toughie No 2981 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View comments 

Toughie No 2981

Toughie 2981 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by StephenL

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Hello all from South Devon, hope everyone had a good Christmas.

Donnybrook, a regular in the Tuesday Toughie spot it seems, gets the ball rolling this week. You always know you’re going to get a stiff challenge and a quirky fun puzzle from this setter and today proved no exception.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


8a This precedes foxtrot in the choreography (4)
ECHO: Hidden in the clue.

9a Gloriana returned in high dudgeon? (3)
IRE: Gloriana was the name given to Queen Elizabeth 1 in a 16th century poem by Edmund Spenser. We need to reverse her royal cipher.

10a Insect on the ground circles rook (6)
HORNET: Anagram (ground) of ON THE around the abbreviation for Rook.

11a Eggs laid together in strapless bag (6)
CLUTCH: Double definition.

12a Joke after time beset by extra financial burden (8)
MORTGAGE: Insert (beset by) the abbreviation for Time plus a joke or wisecrack into a synonym of extra.

13a Cash Kremlin made sent out for revolutionary tools? (6,3,6)
HAMMER AND SICKLE: Anagram (sent out) of the preceding three words. Well done setter for getting such relevant fodder.

15a Obstructive admin on record that’s involved Democrat (3,4)
RED TAPE: A 2-letter preposition meaning on and a record or video into which is inserted the abbreviation for Democrat

17a Single-handedly cutting through nonsense? (7)
BALONEY: A synonym of single-handedly or by oneself sits inside a 2-letter preposition meaning through

20a Drummer‘s daughter given kiss when naive suitor’s around? (5,10)
GREEN WOODPECKER: Start with the colour that’s associated with naive, (that’s the first word sorted) then insert the abbreviation for Daughter followed by a short kiss into a romantic suitor. The drummer of course refers to the birds actions on the bark of a tree. What a beauty!

23a Check on couple in charmed circle? (8)
BRACELET: A couple or pair is followed by a synonym of check in the sense of impediment or constraint. Think tennis.

25a The Parker-Bowles connection? (6)
HYPHEN: Took me an embarrassingly long time to see this but it’s hiding in plain sight between or connecting the two words of the clue.

26a With word from Baudelaire this writer has purpose (6)
MOTIVE: The French (from Baudelaire) for “word” followed by the first person abbreviated form of “this setter has”.

27a In sound flood rescue vessel reveals bow (3)
ARC: “In sound,”  here has nothing to do with a body body of water but is a homophone indicator of a biblical “rescue vessel”.

28a First sign of horse and trap reversing is imminent (4)
NIGH: The initial letter of Horse and an animal trap are reversed


1d Six-headed creature colleague Lewis picked up? (6)
SCYLLA: A reversal as indicated by “picked up” (my initial thought was homophone) of a colleague or partner and the first two initials of the author CS Lewis.

2d Firm conservationists accepting casual worker’s ridicule (8)
CONTEMPT: Start with our usual abbreviated firm or company then insert an informal word for a causal worker into the abbreviation for National Trust.

3d My job’s on the line — it’s over explosive Telegraph work (9,6)
TIGHTROPE WALKER: A reversal of IT plus an anagram (explosive) of TELEGRAPH WORK. Brilliant clue.

4d Would you say mink gave rise to furore? (7)
FERMENT: We need two homophones here (would you say). One of the coat of a mink, the other of a synonym of gave rise to or resulted in.

5d Low on wine, cruel son coming in for unpleasant punishment (5,5,5)
SHORT SHARP SHOCK: Start with a word meaning low on, not enough, and follow it with a German white wine. Insert betwixt the two a synonym of cruel and the abbreviation for Son.

6d Smoke rising beneath apartment’s base: it’s disastrous (6)
TRAGIC: A “smoke” much favoured by Churchill for example is reversed and sits below the final letter or base of apartment.

7d Live game’s beginning: runs written in for scorer? (4)
BERG: The “scorer” here is a musical reference, need I say more. Insert the abbreviation for Runs into a synonym of live and the initial letter of Game

14d Elaine occasionally in position on course (3)
LIE: One for the golfers. Alternate letters of eLaInE.

16d Lead-free transport gets attention (3)
EAR: The lead-free here isn’t a reference to the metal as Donny would like you to think but the initial or leading letter of a synonym of transport in the sense of carry or convey.

18d Resident in Acton dressed to receive grail? (8)
OCCUPANT: Anagram (dressed) of ACTON into which is inserted a biblical cup or platter.

19d Robber never up in bottom flat? (7)
FOOTPAD: This highwayman is obtained by a charade of bottom or base and a bit of a dated word for a flat or apartment. The “never up” is a reference to him not using a horse for his nefarious practice. Great clue.

21d Suggestion upset top mathematician (6)
EUCLID: Reverse a suggestion, signal or prompt and follow it with a top or covering.

22d Issue for example with repair team in service lifts (6)
EMERGE: The usual “for example” and the abbreviation for Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers are reversed. (lifts in a down clue).

24d Batter and crumble that covers over (4)
ROOT: The batter here is (traditionalists look away) someone who you may see at Lords or The Oval. A synonym of crumble or erode goes around the abbreviation for Over. Nice how the setter has some cricket terms in the wordplay. Ending on a high note

Great stuff Donny, my winners are 20a plus 3&19d.  Which ones appealed to you?


21 comments on “Toughie No 2981
Leave your own comment 

  1. A really enjoyable puzzle – many thanks to Donnybrook and StephenL.
    My favourite clue was the ‘never up robber’ (19d) but I also ticked 9a, 17a, 20a and 24d.

  2. Most entertaining with some wily misdirection. Once I had fully grasped the parsing of 19d that had to be my favourite, although 24d gave it a good run for the money along with 9a. I very much hope that this fine puzzle sets the Toughie tone for the week.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and SL.

  3. This was a good tussle, as I always find with this setter. 19d was a new word for me in this context but guessable from the wordplay and checkers. 17a was my favourite but 25a took me longer than it should have done!
    Many thanks to Donnybrook and StephenL.

  4. I managed to complete this with just a little help from the hints. My favourite clue was 19d.

    Thank you, Donnybrook for the fun and StephenL for the hints and Pink Floyd – “Which one of you is Pink”? asked an American interviewer. :grin:

  5. No unaided finish here. Couldn’t recall the monster at 1d & looked it up & then even more disappointingly didn’t then parse it either. Completed the remainder eventually but couldn’t parse 3d. Don’t think the car conducive to giving crosswords full attention or at least that’s my excuse for making such hard work of it. Enjoyed it nevertheless. Big ticks for 3&19d plus 20a
    Thanks to Donny & Stephen – bet Parker-Bowles took me longer.

  6. Took me a while to sort out the parsing of both 16&19d but I certainly enjoyed this offering from our Tuesday setter.
    Tops for me was definitely 20a with 17a sliding into second place.

    Thanks to Donnybrook for the puzzle and to Stephen for the review.

  7. Very difficult but managed to complete and parse everything except 26a, I bunged in the right answer but didn’t know the French for word. Favourite was 20a. Thanks to Donnybrook and SL.

  8. Superb stuff everywhere, with even that garnished by the excellent 3 down. I do like an apposite clue!

    Not too tough this one, hence the Tuesday slot I’d guess, and a nice touch in that from the eds.

    Many thanks Donnybrook, and Stephen for the blog.

  9. Well, well, well. On my way to a Donny Brook, in sub-freezing weather last night (outdoors but not much warmer within), barefoot, and uphill both ways, I came upon that 19d, which I had never heard of before, and it was my ultimate undoing, nor did I know the batter in 24d but that one was fairly obvious and answered itself. I wondered if others experienced a sustained G&S frisson with the ‘unpleasant punishment’ of 5d (oh, the days when I would patter along with the singer!), which really ought to be my favourite, but I’m going to opt instead for the simpler but paradoxically more complex 1d and 9a as my co-favs. Thanks to Stephen and DonnyB. Very, very enjoyable.

    1. When checking the batsman, I learned that the new captain is called Stokes. Such a crosswordyworthy name. Sure that he will make an appearance soon.

  10. For a toughie by DB today, I did well for me, with a couple of pauses for thought as I usually find his puzzles impossible to get through.
    Today 2.5*/3.5*

    Did not know the words in 1d & 7d but Mr Google helped.

    Favourites included 13a, 25a, 27a, 5d & 21d with winner 25a as it slapped me in the face when the penny dropped.

    Thanks to DB and StephenL

  11. It works! Went back to toughie 2900, checked if my name and email were there, then back to 2981, which is today’s toughie and my name and email stayed in the box.
    IT really works in mysterious ways.
    Really enjoyed Donnybrook’s offering even though I failed on the burglar.
    Went for Woody as the first word in 20a until proven wrong by the mathematician.
    17a made me laugh. I love this word.
    Great anagram in 13a.
    Thanks to NYD and to StephenL for the review.

  12. Checking in late to thank Donnybrook for a quite brilliant Tuesday Toughie – some ingenious constructions, a shoal of red herrings, and smiles throughout. Thanks also to Stephen.

Join the Conversation, Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.