Toughie No 2989 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 2989

Toughie No 2989

Hints and tips by StephenL

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

Hello everyone from a wet and windy South Devon.

Tuesday rolls around again and Dada kicks of the Toughie week with a fun puzzle that was, not withstanding the five double definitions, a lot of fun.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Dog, one with puppies far from relaxed (7)
MASTIFF: An informal word (2) for one’s mother and adjective meaning rigid.

5a Man on journey singing for his supper? (7)
BUSKING: Append one of our usual chess men to a form of public transport.

9a Device ultimately dividing measure of liquid in vessel (7)
GALLEON: Insert the final letter (ultimately) of devicE into an imperial measure of liquid.

10a Under protection of goddess, a maiden from the East raised (7)
AMASSED: Hidden (under protection of) and reversed (from the East).

11a Chewing up hay, animal like the yak? (9)
HIMALAYAN: Anagram (chewing up) of the following two words.

12a Brown bread, dead! (5)
TOAST: Double definition, the less obvious one being a description of someone/thing that is about to be doomed.

13a Triad shot in the arm (5)
TONIC: Double definition, the less obvious being musical, relating to chords.

15a Game for children providing silence on journey (9)
HOPSCOTCH: An informal word for a short journey and a verb meaning to put an end to or silence (a rumour say).

17a Degree secured by US lexicographer, developer of online site (9)
WEBMASTER: Insert one of our usual educational degrees into the common name of an American dictionary.

19a Money from Cape Town, say, for fabric (5)
SATIN: The abbreviation for the country in which Cape Town is situated and an informal (and rapidly going out of fashion as we increasingly use cards) word for some coins.

22a Teller of tales in a show that’s retrospective (5)
AESOP: A from the clue and the reversal (that’s retrospective) of a synonym of show or display.

23a Early high-flier, one occupying river bed (4,5)
TEST PILOT: Start with a river in Hampshire, and add a bed (in a garden say) into which is inserted the letter that looks like the Roman numeral one.

25a Freeloader beginning to scrounge, stinker? (7)
SPONGER: The initial letter of Scrounge and an informal name (that I haven’t heard for years) for someone or something that smells.

26a First sign (7)
INITIAL: A pretty straightforward double definition.

27a Endeavour to nurse queen where skin undergoing treatment (7)
TANNERY: A verb meaning to endeavour or have a go goes around (to nurse) an English queen.

28a Containing anger, son of Jacob shut up (7)
GARAGED: The eldest of Jacob’s two sons goes around (containing) a synonym of great anger.


1d Sensation I hate, skin in morning tickled? (7)

MEGAHIT: Anagram (tickled) of I HATE plus the outside letters (skin in) of MorninG.

2d One day, wise guy! (7)
SOLOMON: A adverb alone or “without others” and an abbreviated day.

3d Best possible declaration of player holding all the cards? (5)
IDEAL: An adjective meaning perfect could also be a proclamation (1,4) of someone holding all the cards in a card game.

4d My time in Royal Ascot attire? (5,4)
FANCY THAT: If we insert the abbreviation for Time into a description of a fashion item at Royal Ascot we have a synonym of “my” as an expression of surprise

5d Country lacks it, mind (5)
BRAIN: Remove the word “it” from a country most of us reside in.

6d Tom, perhaps, cracks up over American film (9)
SPARTACUS: A feline animal (Tom perhaps) and a synonym of cracks or hits are reversed (up) and an abbreviation for American is appended.

7d Isn’t trained soldier, say, prepared in advance? (7)
INSTANT: Anagram (trained) of ISN’T plus a “military” insect. Clever clue.

8d Share costs with encouraging words from husband? (2,5)
GO DUTCH: An informal name for one’s wife (think of our Friday blogger!) follows a 2-letter imperative that could be a word of encouragement.

14d Buddy and girl nearly finished drink (9)

CHAMPAGNE: Follow an informal name for a buddy or a supporter with a female name lacking its final letter (nearly finished)

16d Cold will be gone soon (9)
PERISHING: Double definition, one a weather related adjective, the other a participle of a verb meaning die.

17d So-and-so, with task almost entirely messed up (7)
WHATSIT: Anagram (messed up) of WITH TAS(k) (almost entirely).

18d Charlie’s gift-wrapped instrument (7)
BASSOON: A gift or godsend “wraps” or goes around a fool or nincompoop (Charlie).

20d Effective relation (7)
TELLING: Double definition, one an adjective meaning effective or significant the other a recital or account of a tale perhaps.

21d Cross being clear, shown (7)
NETTLED: A word meaning being clear (of tax maybe) and a synonym of shown or directed.

23d Sticky delay (5)
TARRY: Another double definition, one an adjective relating to a black viscous substance, the other a verb meaning to linger.

24d Leaders in public roles, invariably obnoxious, rather superior among brothers (5)
PRIOR: The initial letters (leaders in) of the following five words.

My Tuesday podium contenders are 5&25a plus 7&18d with 4d the winner “by a couple of lengths”. Which ones did it for you?


18 comments on “Toughie No 2989
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  1. Yes just right for a Tuesday. I think the informal name in 8d is for wife. Favourite was 4d. Thanks to Dada and SL.

  2. Don’t usually do the toughie, but managed it okay today, albeit after a long time.
    Some really fun clues, my favourite of which was 23a, which took a dog’s age
    as I was fixated about birds, ah well got there in the end, might try again tomorrow……

  3. A bit trickier than Dada’s usual Toughie I thought and all the better for it – thanks to him and StephenL (especially for his hard work recovering from the formatting problems on the previous version of his blog).
    The ones that did it for me were 1a,19a and 23a with my favourite being 4d.

  4. Copied and pasted from the original version of the blog to keep all the comments together:

    This was nicely challenging and great fun with a plethora of ticks and two hmms.

    5d – Britain is not a country. In fact, it is not even listed in the BRB without being preceded by Great; and Great Britain comprises three countries.
    14d – aside from the vague girl, I can’t find anything in any of the main dictionaries to suggest that “champ” = “buddy”. It does get a mention in Wiktionary, but is that really considered as a valid source for a Telegraph crossword?

    My ticks went to 5a, 19a, 23a, 25a, 2d, 4d, 16d, 18d & 23d.

    Many thanks to Dada and to SL.

  5. Thanks so much, Stephen L. For some reason I hit the buffers trying to parse 15a, even though the answer was obvious from the checkers! Where are you in S Devon? Blowing a hoolie down here, near Dartmouth!

    1. Hi Linda, I’m in Torquay. I’ve been to Dartmouth many times over the years and always enjoyed it (though pleased I’m not making the ferry crossing this evening!).

      1. I see you have weather warnings from the next two days. We returned to Kent from Newton Abbot last Saturday which was a good move for once but we had a big diversion due to flooding as we left.
        A hosepipe ban next August?

  6. A friendly Tuesday toughie for me with a more modern feel than usual – I approve! Stand-outs for me include 5d (even if it caused a few hmms), 8d, 17a and 23a, with the winner going to 17d, because what a great word.

    Ty to Dada and SL

  7. Dada always manages to keep us smiling while solving his puzzles. This one was no exception and thoroughly enjoyed.
    Thanks Dada and SL.

  8. Managed 11a with a flourish and then died. I can only comment that the hint for 28 has too many “G”’s….and that, from me, is an impertinence!

  9. Finished this terrific Dada last night and have been otherwise engaged since posting on the Cryptic blog earlier this morning (i.e., asleep!). I would say a proper Toughie to get the week going, full of wit and humour and the kind of wordplay that is unique to this compiler (especially 4d & 28a, my top two). 12a made me laugh, as did 2d (“You”ll get yours, Mr Know-it-all!”). A joy all the way. Thanks to Dada and to Stephen.

  10. Definitely would be a 3* or even 4* for a Sunday back pager as this required a lot of thought and plodding through.
    Nice thing there were no words or answers that where way off the beaten path … just good clues with logical answers … but like I say, took some digging.
    For me 2.5*/3.5*

    Favourites included 1a, 27a, 4d, 5d & 16d with winner 5d

    Thanks to Dada & StephenL

  11. Late post as out all day & only just back. Solved earlier & 1d took nearly as long as the rest of it – the skin context in the wordplay taking an age for the penny to drop. I wasn’t 100% sure that I had 15a correctly parsed but see I’m ok. 4d my clear favourite with 23&28a on the podium & with further ticks for 1,17&19a.
    Top notch.
    Thanks to D& the other S

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