Toughie 2986 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2986

Toughie No 2986 by Hudson

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ****

It is always a treat to get a crossword from Hudson (or any of his alter egos) and this one was a perfect ‘start of the week’ Toughie

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1a    Dad regularly tracked large item being delivered (6)
PARCEL An informal name for a father (dad), the regular letters of tRaCkEd and the abbreviation for Large

5a    Young shipmate Bob in scuffles in a Caribbean bar (5,3)
CABIN BOY An anagram (scuffles) of BOB IN inserted into a low island or reef (bar) in the Caribbean – I can’t be the only person who immediately thought ‘surely his name was Tom?’

9a    Preserve first-class news channel preserving first-class work (7,3)
JAMAICA INN A type of preserve, an adjective indicating a first-class vessel, followed by the same adjective inserted into (preserving) an American cable news channel

10a    Good husband so flipping boring, crikey (4)
GOSH A reversal (flipping) of SO ‘boring’ or going between the abbreviations for Good and Husband

11a    Squirrel getting large portion around lunchtime (8)
CHIPMUNK A large portion of, eg, bread or wood, goes around the time when lunch is traditionally served

12a    Ironic play reflecting the truth of Julius Caesar? That’s a non-starter (6)
SATIRE A reversal (reflecting) of the Latin word (as used by Julius Caesar for example) for truth without its first letter (that’s a non-starter)

13a    Liberal, upper-class PG Tips advert (4)
PLUG PG (from the clue) goes round (forms the tips or edges of) the abbreviation for Liberal and the letter used to indicate upper-class

15a    Actor, local character in Athens that’s funny (8)
THESPIAN The sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet (a local ‘character’ for someone in Athens) inserted into an anagram (that’s funny) of ATHENS

18a    Spanish city freeing 22 foreign spies (8)
VALENCIA An anagram (freeing) of the solution to 22d followed by some American (foreign) spies

19a    Sending back ten tons of weight without packaging (4)
NETT Weight not including packaging – a reversal (sending back) of the abbreviation for Tons and TEN (from the clue)

21a    British state arresting European dam engineer (6)
BEAVER The abbreviation for British and a verb meaning to state ‘arresting’ the abbreviation for European

23a    Batting second, England’s opener is wearing protective gear aplenty (2,6)
IN SPADES Being in the middle of a cricket innings (batting), the abbreviation for second followed by the ‘opener’ for England plus the S (‘s), the latter wearing protective gear worn by a batsman or wicketkeeper

25a    Network covering wide area of the garden (4)
LAWN A computer network ‘covering’ the abbreviation for Wide

26a    Bishop’s office beginning to enjoy hard liquor and meat spread (10)
EPISCOPATE The ‘beginning’ to Enjoy, an alcoholic spirit distilled from grape wine, named after the port in Peru from which it was exported, and a type of meat spread

27a    Elk butchered in attack, just bones to be seen (8)
SKELETON An anagram (butchered) of ELK inserted into a verb meaning to attack

28a    Former bloc 19 evacuated, they leave the stage (6)
EXEUNT The usual two-letter ‘former’, an abbreviated bloc of nations, and the outside (evacuated) letters of the solution to 19a


2d    Sea was huge, walls flooded (5)
AWASH Hidden in (walled by) the first three words of the clue

3d    The Widow revving MG with panache? (9)
CHAMPAGNE An anagram (revving) of MG with PANACHE

4d    Initially lip synched regularly to cover hesitant tic in lecture hall (6)
LYCEUM – The initial letter of Lip, the regular letters of sYnChEd ‘cover’ or go on top of in a down solution, an involuntary (tic) expression of hesitation

5d    Debut of Cliff Richard on film playing a VIP hero in fixture at Lord’s? (7,8)
CRICKET PAVILION The first letter (debut) of Cliff, a diminutive form of Richard, the famous film beloved of film-goers and crossword setters alike, an anagram (playing) of A VIP and a hero

6d    Poor Sinbad … he got booted out of the country (8)
BANISHED An anagram (poor) of SINBAD HE

7d    The Dark Lord’s sidekick from the old days, according to rumour (5)
NIGHT A homophone (according to rumour) of a man who, in feudal times (the old days) provided military service (was a sidekick) to a lord

8d    Most watchful, bravest on manoeuvres (9)
OBSERVANT An anagram (on manoeuvres) of BRAVEST ON

14d    Loosen support underpinning student finance arrangement (9)
LEASEBACK Synonyms for loosen and support ‘underpinning’ in a Down solution, the usual abbreviated student

16d    Long on tech giant which might sour or blow up totally? (9)
PINEAPPLE A verb meaning long or wish for goes on the name of a tech giant company to produce something that could be the name of a sour sweet or an informal term for a hand grenade (which could blow up totally)

17d    Least common small automobile that is delivered in Paris? (8)
SCARCEST The abbreviation for small, an automobile, and the French (as delivered in Paris) way of saying that is

20d    English country shop destocked revolting spirit (6)
PSYCHE A reversal (revolting) of the outside (destocked) letters of EnglisH CounterY ShoP

22d    Nitrogen found in meat for sale (5)
VENAL The chemical symbol for nitrogen inserted into a type of meat, the solution meaning open to bribery or able to be bought (for sale)

24d    Each can avoid using restaurants (3,2)
EAT IN The abbreviation for each and another word for a can

19 comments on “Toughie 2986
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  1. I always enjoy this setter’s puzzles and today’s was no exception . Not overly difficult but hugely entertaining with a plethora of podium contenders.
    28a was a new word for me but the clueing and checking letters were very sympathetic so easily obtainable.
    I’ll select 9(read the novel and been there a few times over the years) &11a plus 5&24d as podium contenders with the lol 21a taking top spot.
    Many thanks to Hudson and Cryptic Sue.

  2. Didn’t know Cay in 5a, as I commented in a back page post doh! I thought this easier than the back page but a very well clued crossword.

  3. This is an enjoyable Toughie from Hudson which I found more straightforward than is the norm for me with his puzzles. Even the words I didn’t know (the Caribbean bar and the hard liquor with the not very inviting name) were pretty obvious.
    My ticks went to 12a, 23a and 7d with my favourite being 21a.
    Thanks to Hudson and CS.

  4. This was great fun and much less tough than yesterday’s Toughie despite two new words for me in 5a and 26a.

    My top picks were 21a, 23a, 5d & 17d.

    Many thanks to Hudson and to CS.

  5. Hudson is one of the Toughie setters that I can easily ‘connect’ with and this one was no exception – 2.5*/3.5*

    Candidates for favourite – 9a, 11a, 16d, and 20d – and the winner is 20d.

    Thanks to Hudson and CS.

  6. I chuckled to myself when I finally parsed 12a, thinking ‘How clever is that, anyway!’ Indeed, the entire puzzle just oozed such artistry, such verbal sleight-of-hand, with 21a, 5d, and 9a edging out a number of worthy contenders for the podium. Thanks to CS and Hudson. Great Toughie!

  7. What a contrast to yesterday’s brain mangler. Nice & gentle but a delightful solve from start to finish. Filled in the grid in about the same time as the back-pager but parsing a good few took longer. I had to confirm the meaning of cay at 5a (Tom & certainly not Roger as many believe) & remind myself yet again what the acronym was at 25a. Certainly lacking in the booze GK not knowing veuve translated as widow & never having heard of the Peruvian liquor & I’d also forgotten the slang for a grenade. Thankfully Mr G provided the necessary enlightenment. I wrongly thought 28a featured in the stage direction in The Winter’s Tale but there was only the one bear chasing Antigonus. Like Stephen 9a was my pick of a fine selection – a wonderful performance from Charles Laughton in the first of Hitchcock’s 3 DDM adaptations. Plenty of ticks elsewhere – 11,12,21&26a plus 4,5,14&20d other particular likes.
    Thanks Hudson & CS

  8. I will be different and choose 3d as my top clue because I really like that particular tipple. The whole grid was an absolute delight from top to bottom, and complemented nicely the Jay crossword.

    My thanks to Hudson for the fun, and to CS.

  9. I found this harder than previous commentators and needed the hints to parse quite a few, I also hadn’t heard of the hard liquor or the widow. Favourite was 9a. Thanks to Hudson and CS.

  10. A quickie after yesterday but just as much fun. I’m surprised the purists [whoever they are] haven’t criticised the lack of a “definition by example” indicator in 3d – i.e. The Widow, say….so I won’t either.
    Clues which made me smile were 13a [a vision of liberal, upper-class chimps] 20d and the cute little 24d.
    Thanks to Hudson and CS.

  11. Hudson is a great setter and , although obviously on the easy side , one or two of his clues are quite tricky to parse [ correctly ! ] . Many enjoyable answers but, as usual, I go for the short ones, and I loved 24d . Many thanks to both .

  12. Delightful puzzle from our setter and I learnt a new drink in 26a (a bit dubious about trying it!) and finally discovered how that 3d got its name.
    Winners for me were the creatures at 11&24a with 23&25a adding to the podium.

    Thanks to Hudson for the enjoyment and to CS for the review.

  13. Tremendously enjoyable puzzle from Hudson – loved so many of the clues, with smiles and groans aplenty. Had never heard of the Peruvian drink, but it didn’t matter, while getting 28a made me realise I had initially entered the wrong answer for 19a!

    Many thanks to Hudson, and to CS for the blog.

  14. This took me a bit longer than today’s back-pager but just as enjoyable. I think it was mainly the more obscure references as the wordplay seemed friendly. I hadn’t heard of 4d or 28a, though both were fairly clear from the wordplay; the real trouble was 26a which I hadn’t heard of the Peruvian liquor or the office and had to resort to Mr Google. I liked 9a, the surface of 10a, 21a, 5d and many more… ***/****

    Thanks to Hudson and CS

  15. Needed the blog to get the correct answer in 5a. Was so sure that definition was at the end and that the first word would start with cub for the young.
    Beaten but happy for solving the rest of this great crossword.
    Thanks to Hudson and to CS.

  16. Really enjoyed his. I’ll admit to a bit of electronic help but it only confirmed the odd inspired guess or two.
    I really liked 7d having wasted time thinking of Dark Lords. Beelzebub came to mind but the real answer became my COTD

  17. On recommendation from the regular cryptic decided to have a go at this Toughie. Toyed with ‘Hoover’ for dam engineer (21a) even though he was president, not the engineer and it didn’t parse – but got there in the end, Otherwise I was only defeated by 9a – totally befuddled by the wordplay! ***/*****

  18. Relatively steady solve with a couple of hints required.

    Favourites include 1a, 10a, 26a, 5d & 20d with winner 20d

    Couple of unknown words for me in 28a & 4d

    Thanks to Hudson and CS

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