Toughie No 2997 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 2997

Toughie No 2997 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by StephenL

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

Hello everyone from another crisp but beautifully sunny day here on the South Devon coast.

Donnybrook, a regular in the Tuesday spot, opens the batting for The Toughie setters this week with a puzzle full of very inventive clueing with a fair bit of GK that had me working hard on a couple of parsings. All good fun though as we’ve come to expect from this setter


Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Lock spring breaks to give uninvited access (8)
TRESPASS: Insert (breaks) a mineral spring into a lock of hair.

9a View country houses over river (8)
PANORAMA: A South American country goes around the abbreviations for Over and River, “houses” being the containment indicator

10a Character facing Mio in story about boy created by Lindgren (4)
EMIL: We need to insert the initial letter (character facing) of Mio into a reversal (about) of a crosswordland staple story.

11 See 24 Down

13a Merry old soul’s order for vegetable salad? (8)
COLESLAW: Piece together the “Merry old King” from the rhyme, the possessive S and a legal order. I actually love this stuff.

15a Tea brewed, Satan’s daughter enjoys home cooking (4,2)
EATS IN: An anagram (brewed) of TEA plus the daughter of Satan in legend

16a Huntsman John, soft and slippery character (4)
PEEL: Start with the musical instruction to play quietly or softly, and add crosswordland’s favourite marine slippery character giving an old huntsman in the North of England. I only knew him as a DJ!

17a Haughty writer Marcel died, refusing stone (5)
PROUD: The surname of the French essayist to whom the clue refers has the abbreviation for STone removed and replaced by that of Died

18a Polish golfer’s lead vanished in defeat (4)
LOSS: Remove the initial or “lead” letter of Golfer from a synonym of polish or shine.

20a Data revealed word (6)
OUTPUT: Piece together a synonym of revealed as in “not hidden” and a synonym of word as in “how can I *** this diplomatically”.

21a Electoral system is blocking true revenge (8)
REPRISAL: The abbreviation for a type of electoral system (proportional representation) plus IS from the clue go inside or “block” a synonym of true or authentic

23a Anaemic kitten, poorly, needs iron: this might add colour? (7,5)
PALETTE KNIFE: A charade of a synonym of anaemic, an anagram (poorly) of KITTEN and the chemical symbol of Iron. Apparently this was created using the solution.

26a Extinct language only Army and RAF used? (4)
NORN: If you split the solution 2,2 it could mean only the “Army and RAF”, referring to the absence of the “other” service.

27a 100 and too old for insurance protection (8)

COVERAGE: The Roman numeral for 100 and and an adjective meaning too old or old enough

28a Design surrounding emblem is oddly vulgar (8)
PLEBEIAN: Place a 4-letter design around the alternate or odd letters of EmBlEm Is


2d Stresses good news about lost sheep? (4,4)
RAMS HOME: The solution could whimsically mean some male sheep have returned to the fold. Lol

3d Peril, as close, dreadful portent in sky? (5,7)
SOLAR ECLIPSE: Anagram (dreadful) of the preceding three words

4d Like Jack Dawkins, Rex admitted to terrible fault (6)
ARTFUL: Insert (admitted) the abbreviation for Rex into an anagram (terrible) of FAULT

5d Beat off Leonidas? There’s metal pole (4)
SPAR: Remove a synonym of beat in the sense of thrash from someone of which Leonadis was an example.

6d In Row D? (3-2-3)
END TO END: Easier to solve than hint. If we apply the first two words of the solution to the third word it gives the letter D.

7d In pain, optimist in Candide should ignore 18 (4)
PANG: Another literary reference. We need to remove the solution for 18a from the name of the Professor in the novel by Voltaire

8d Super Ted owns properties second husband must leave (8)
HASTINGS: The “Super Ted” here is the superintendent in the TV series “Line of Duty”. If we split the solution 3,5 it could mean “owns properties” (or anything else) before the removal of the second occurrence of the abbreviation for Husband. Overseas solvers may struggle with this one (or those who don’t watch much TV….eg your blogger)

12d Might you say I wait in line for a measure of this? (12)
INTELLIGENCE: An abbreviatied measurement of the solution is a first person pronoun and a homophone of a synonym of a line of people waiting.

14d One coming to court with reaction to innuendo? (5)
WOOER: The court here is in a romantic sense. Piece together the abbreviation for With and an exclamation expressing surprise.. For those old enough think Kenneth Williams or Frankie Howard, I can’t remember which (or both maybe!) Lol and worth the admission fee alone.

16d Promising player spoils sport around gym clubs (8)
PROSPECT: Place an anagram (spoils) of SPORT around the abbreviation for some Physical Exercise followed by that of Clubs

17d Fit metal tip that’s shaped (5,3)
PETIT MAL: Anagram (that’s shaped) of the preceding two words. The translated solution literally means “small illness”

19d Fruit on branch put into it makes meal (8)
SHAWARMA: This Middle Eastern dish is obtained by an insertion of a red fruit, plus (on in a Down clue) a synonym of a branch or division into an an abbreviated ‘it” in the sense of physical attraction (Sex Appeal)

22d Harry and Meghan finally splitting cost? (6)
PRINCE: Insert the final letter of MeghaN into a synonym of cost, giving a definition by example. Royalists will be happy for the absence of an illustration!

24d & 11a  Emotional experience of duck visiting principal tourist attraction? (4,2,5,5)
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT: A synonym of duck in the sense of “zero” plus a preposition which could mean visiting, a synonym of principal and a general word for a tourist attraction.

25d Stay fresh in castle tower (4)
KEEP: Double definition.

Good stuff NYD. My winners are 2,6,14&19d Which ones made your sun shine?




26 comments on “Toughie No 2997
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  1. There are some cracking clues in this extremely enjoyable puzzle – many thanks to Donnybrook and StephenL.
    I have masses of ticks including 2d (LOL), 6d, 8d (Super Ted – brilliant) and 12d but my favourite for the great laugh it produced is 14d.

  2. Rather a lot of GK perhaps
    I really liked 8d after fruitlessly chasing after animated Teddy bears. I think our overseas readers might struggle? Anyway, as a fan of Call of Duty, it’s my COTD

  3. Another splendid Toughie from Donnybrook – the one that took the longest for the penny to drop was 12d and I’d agree with Gazza’s favourites

    Thanks very much to Donnybrook and to StephenL

  4. Had to do some e-confirming for 16a and 8d, but there’s no way I could have done the same for 19d since I had never heard of it, nor is the fruit at all familiar to me (except literarily), So it’s a DNF for me but a jolly one nonetheless since I really enjoyed the tussle last night. Naturally I liked the 7d/18a combo, as well as 17a, but my podium choices are 17d, 23a, and 26a. Thanks to Stephen for the review and Donnybrook for the entertainment.

  5. Loved this. Many laughs. Loved 2d and 6d. A few new words and clues I didn’t know the characters mentioned. Had to find Candide’s optimist but smiled when I did.
    Very clever crossword. Thanks to Donnybrook and Stephen

  6. I usually see GK look-ups as opportunities to learn about stuff, but perhaps one or two too many today. Otherwise very enjoyable and about my head-scratching level. Thanks Donnybrook and StephenL.

  7. Very enjoyable although I did have to do some homework for 10&26a plus 19d and stared at 6d for a long while before the penny dropped.
    Crowded podium housing 13&21a along with 2,8&12d

    Thanks to Donnybrook and to Stephen for the review.

  8. Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place but the answer to 19d can’t be found in the BRB which seems a little unfair. Found this very tough for a Tuesday – certainly more than 3*, if only for that clue alone..

  9. I love Donnybrook’s puzzles and this was right up there amongst his very best. I thought 8d was an outstanding clue, (as a British tv viewer), and was easily my favourite. 19d was an absolute bung-in.

    My thanks to Donnybrook for a great challenge and to SL.

  10. Some chuckles and some clever clues here, especially 13a, 6d and 12d but I can’t help thinking that other setters would be pilloried for anything like this amount of GK, proper nouns and general obscurities.
    Thanks to Donnybrook and SL.

  11. Great fun and lots of laughs along the way. I needed Google today as my trusty sidekick with all the GK, which was a little high for my liking. 8d was total genius, I’ve watched all the Line of Duty seasons and still didn’t twig until I was parsing it; I was totally fixated on the teddy bear series of the 80s. Contenders include 2d, 13a, 21a, 2d, 12d, 14d and 19d that all made me chuckle. ****/****

    Thanks to Donnybrook and StephenL

  12. Obviously I lack in 12d because I still don’t understand it, as for 19d it was very obtuse with the fruit and I have never seen SA used for it. So it was a DNF for me. Clever clue 8d very well misdirected!

  13. Didn’t know the character or the writer in 10a, needed the hint to parse 20a, didn’t know the king in 5d, the optimist in 7d, or the language in 26a and I’ve never seen Line of Duty so I decided on the answers and Googled them, 17d and 19d were also new to me the latter I couldn’t parse either. The rest were fairly straightforward. Favourite was 6d. Thanks to Donnybrook for the pummeling and SL for the much needed hints.

  14. Donnybrook as consistent as ever – ***/****

    I did have to e-confirm Super Ted – I had watched some of the TV programme but have since forgotten the characters.

    Stand-out favourite the 24d/11a combo.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and Stephen L.

  15. Quite a lot of GK that we had to go chasing (8d for example) but we did get everything sorted.
    Plenty of clever clues and a most enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Donnybrook and SL.

  16. Really enjoyed this rather splendid puzzle, albeit that it could as happily appeared as a midweek backpager. Rather heavy on the GK, more like a Times puzzle. Had never heard of Mio/Lindren, nor the kebab, but the wordplay was fair and the answers obtainable. The TV programme was right over my head. COTD the splendid laugh-out-loud 14d, with runner-up 26a, although there were many closely Q’d up behind.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and Stephen

  17. Super puzzle. Unfortunately I came up 2 short. Beaten by 17&19d. With the former I clocked the anagram but for some reason I had it in mind that it was 3,5 instead of 5,3 so no wonder I couldn’t figure out the fodder – unfamiliar to me anyway. I’d simply never heard of the latter & didn’t figure it out even after reading Stephen’s explicit hint. Huntsman John I didnae ken so he required confirmation along with Voltaire at 7d & the extinct language. Ticks in abundance – 14d (very Kenneth Williams) my fav with 8&12d on the podium & with 24d/11a narrowly missing out.
    Thanks to Donny & Stephen – needed you to explain the put at 20a too.

  18. Lovely, fun puzzle although I didn’t get 19d. Super Ted was favourite but it was quite a stretch to get the answer.

    Thanks to StephenL for the blog and Donnybrook.

  19. This was tremendous. Absolutely loved the ‘anaemic kitten’ and ‘Super Ted’, but there were many to choose from, as usual with this setter. The outright winner turned out to be 14D with its ‘reaction to innuendo’. Marvellous stuff.

    Thanks Donny & StephenL.

  20. Thanks to StephenL and all who commented. Couldn’t get in to say hi yesterday due to pressure of indolence, but cheers to all.

    1. Better late than never!!….always appreciated when the setter pops by. Thanks for the head scratching and smiles (in equal measure!)

      1. Have just started attempting the Toughie , having now both the time and inclination. I feel apprehensive even commenting here. This was approx my 5th completion, although, like some others elements of GK needed a little electronic assistance to corroborate a few bung-ins.
        I wouldn’t have graduated even this far without being an avid follower of BD hints for the back-pagers for a few years.
        Thanks to the NYKD and StephenL – and to all BD contributors.

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