Toughie 2988 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2988

Toughie No 2988 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Another near-pangram, no Z. I slowly got through 3 quadrants then came a cropper in NE – took me ages – my last ones in were 6d and 13a (and I’m still not sure I’ve parsed 13a right – PS: I didn’t! Thanks CS for correction in first comment). I doubt anyone will complain that this is not toughie material. A satisfying solve.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Crime spree essentially gatecrashing fleet? (6)
PIRACY: The central letters (essentially) of crime & spree go inside (gatecrashing) a word meaning fleet of pacy

4a    Language Argentine associated with business staff (8)
COMANCHE: An Argentine revolutionary follows an abbreviation for business and a word meaning to staff

9a    Knockout involving leader of Premiership? (3-3)
CUP-TIE: A knockout or good-looking woman contains the first letter (leader) of Premiership

10a    What’s written by poet in residence over one misfortune (8)
REVERSES: It took me a while to twig that ‘over one’ meant more than one. The output of a poet goes inside a 3-letter abbreviation for residence

12a    Spiky thing, playing London team, chopped (8)
LARKSPUR: A word that means playing or frolic plus a Tottenham team without the last letter (chopped)

13a    Enthusiast over lunch who’s hostile about cricket match (6)
FOODIE: Cricket is my nemesis. I gather there is a cricketer called Foo, and split (3,3) the answer would certainly express hostility towards him, though it seems a bit harsh. I could have this wrong, other ideas welcome. Ah! Thank you Cryptic Sue! (See Comment 1)

15a    Sort of cleaner relative endorsed on phone defaced TV part (13)
ANTIBACTERIAL: A homophone (on phone) of ‘relative endorsed’ plus a tv part required for reception without the first letter (defaced)

18a    Colt’s head sports scar, bone repeatedly bashed climbing these? (6,7)
BRECON BEACONS: The first letter (head) of colt sports (as in wears) an anagram (bashed) of SCAR + BONE + BONE

22a    Children outside swinging, so thrilled? (2,4)
TO BITS: Some young children go outside a word meaning ‘swinging both ways’

24a    Adult runner crossing over to get shade (4,4)
NILE BLUE: A word suggest adult content and the longest river (runner), then reverse the order of these two words (crossing over)

26a    Crack even parts to founder Titanic? (3-5)
ONE-LINER: The even letters of ‘founder’ and the kind of ship Titanic exemplified

27a    Vegan produce Navy rejected, standing by its nautical practice (6)
QUOITS: The answer is often thought of as a game played on deck. A 5-letter meat-substitute brand without (rejected) the 2-letter abbreviation for the Navy, plus ITS from the clue

28a    Back-to-back games keeping mum at house busy then (4,4)
RUSH HOUR: A 2-letter abbreviation for a game/sport plus its reversal (back-to-back) containing (keeping) an interjection meaning mum or quiet plus the abbreviation for house

29a    Fit core of athletes leading around three miles once (6)
LEAGUE: A feverish fit preceded by (leading) the central letters (core) of athletes


1d    Relish cream on latte, just coating (6)
PICKLE: A word meaning cream or elite, plus the outer letters (just coating) of ‘latte’

2d    Rat on undeveloped boozer perhaps creating dirt (9)
REPORTAGE: Split (6,3), the answer could mean to rat on a minor drinker

3d    Fellow on good terms with model makes a fortune (5,2)
COINS IT: A prefix meaning fellow, a preposition meaning ‘on good terms with’, and a word meaning to model or pose

5d    Old farm hands, in exotic lands, lifted (4)
OXEN: A reverse hidden (… lands, lifted)

6d    Boss‘s Yorkshire town house, always hard to ignore (7)
AWESOME: Boss as in excellent. A 5-letter Yorkshire town and another word for house, then in both cases (always) remove (to ignore) the initial abbreviation for hard

7d    Examined how some wine is sold (5)
CASED: Two meanings, the first as in the potential scene of a robbery, the second ‘in boxes’

8d    Soon hosts set to broadcast shipping forecast feature? (8)
EASTERLY: A 5-letter word meaning soon contains (hosts) an anagram (to broadcast) of SET

11d    Sweet dance one studied (3,4)
RUM BABA: A 5-letter dance and a graduate

14d    Rubbish pastry, papa’s common complaint (7)
SCRAPIE: A 5-letter word for rubbish and a pastry, with the letter that has radio code Papa in common

16d    Making slight tweaks initially in medication, adding grams (9)
INSULTING: The first letter (initially) of tweaks goes inside medicine for diabetes, plus the abbreviation for grams

17d    Club closed during utter shambles (8)
ABATTOIR: A club used in cricket and a 2-letter word meaning closed go inside (during) a word meaning utter or voice

19d    Buddy on drums supporting band on street flier? Not so (7)
OSTRICH: The surname of drummer Buddy goes underneath (supporting) the letter that looks like a band or ring and the abbreviation for street

20d    Scandinavian regrets twisting lower half — reason for injury? (7)
OVERUSE: A Scandinavian name plus a word meaning regrets in which the last two letters are swapped (twisting lower half)

21d    Wet resident of lake changing name to Jack (6)
JESSIE: A famous Scottish lake resident with the abbreviation for name changed to that for Jack

23d    Be thankful for B minus (5)
BLESS: B from the clue and another word for minus

25d    Purchase confused Chas leaving Amazon here (4)
PERU: An anagram (confused) of PUR(chas)E without (leaving) CHAS

The all-in-ones at 1a and 9a were very satisfying, lovely clues that made me smile. I also really like ‘Making slight tweaks’. Which clues did you like?

16 comments on “Toughie 2988
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  1. Conceded defeat on the NW and resorted to the hints. I enjoyed the 3/4 that I did manage.

    Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

  2. Tough.
    Needed hints, thanks Dutch.
    13ac makes sense with CS input.
    Your answer to 3d has the wrong seventh letter (not that it matters).
    Haven’t commented for ages since last post was “moderated”.

  3. The NE quadrant was also my main area of tardiness, although 27a was my final entry. Of many fine clues, I liked 13a the best, with an honourable mention for 16d. This was a very satisfying, if slightly lengthy solve, and well worth the perseverance.

    My thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  4. Very disappointing end to the week. Some obscurities (for me) and, with very few answers in, my wife checked and advised me that my answer to 3D was wrong which rather threw me especially as I eventually established that it was correct after all!! I’m also very pleased that Foo the cricketer was not the means to get to the answer for 13A! Altogether at least ***** for difficulty and * for enjoyment with not enough solved to choose a favourite. Sorry, just not for me.

  5. Took me a while to get going and had about 6 answered before going out. However I made good progress on revisit and only the very last one in held me up, as I was determined to find a shade of blue that had a “z” in it!

    I’d rate it 4*/5* as I very much enjoyed it once I got going. My favourite was 6d.

    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  6. Started from the bottom and, as our blogger, found the SE really hard to get into.
    Funny to see the homophone of the relative again so soon in 15a.
    21d made me laugh. The French version is a rather strange word: chochotte.
    When checking 6d, which I got from the def, this place seems to have only 1200 inhabitants. Not exactly at the top of the list.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

  7. Very tough. I got about half-way, in no particular order and needed hints to finish. Too much highly complex wordplay for me unfortunately. I hadn’t heard of the language (4a), or the game (27a) but I thought the wordplay a bit more forgiving for these two, however I wouldn’t have got 24a in a month of Fridays. This sort of challenge is great occasionally but it would be a stretch to call it fun ;)

    TY Osmosis and Dutch for a real workout

        1. Indeed, but gossip isn’t dirt unless it’s negative gossip and even then…..
          I’ve a similar criticism of 5d – oxen = hands – really??

  8. And some posters thought Friday’s backpager was a Toughie…

    That was a definite struggle, and I ground to a halt in the NE, needing a clue for 4a to get me going again with the last few. Thank heavens for e-dictionary assistance with a few word trawls. Had never heard of Hawes (more obscure small village than town, surely?) and wasn’t convinced that lark=playing, unless larking and spurs are both chopped, but that wasn’t indicated.

    V v tough, but enjoyable and satisfying to finally have a full grid. I did like 13&15 across, 2, 3, 17 & 23 down.

    Many thanks indeed to Osmosis, and in particular to Dutch.

  9. NE too much for me , but I enjoyed the rest of it and I thought clues fair and fun , even the ones I didnt get ! Thanks to all *****/****

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