Toughie 2999 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2999

Toughie No 2999 by Elgar
Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Elgar makes a rare sortie outside his usual Friday beat to accommodate what we’re promised will be a special puzzle tomorrow to celebrate Toughie number 3,000. This is no walk in the park but I did slowly and surely get to the end and very enjoyable the journey was. Thanks to Elgar.

There’s often a Nina or theme in an Elgar puzzle (which I rarely find). If there is one today I haven’t spotted it so do let me know if you have.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

1a It sickens mum, accepting a hundred whiskies from dictator (8)
SCHMALTZ: an instruction to stay mum contains the Roman numeral for a hundred. Follow that with what sounds like types of whisky.

5a Three juxtaposed TVs will share this transmitter (6)
TSETSE: if you stick together three occurrences of a word for a television you’ll find this transmitter hidden inside.


9a  Manuscript retired copper takes aboard night stage (3,5)
REM SLEEP: insert the abbreviation for manuscript into the reversal of an informal name for a police officer (derived from the name of the person who founded the Met police).

10a Trim beef, maybe? A prime selection! (6)
RIBEYE: the lowest prime numbers are 2,3,5,7,11 and 13.

11a/12a Contacting practice, Dr Black has rung in “poorly” — there’s sad news in it (8,6)
MOURNING BORDER: one of our abbreviations for doctor and the abbreviation for black precede a synonym of practice. Inside that insert an anagram (poorly) of RUNG IN.

12a     See 11 Across

14a     Done loudly, taken in through the nose, tobacco supply extinguished? (7,3)
SNUFFED OUT: insert what sounds like (done loudly) a verb meaning taken or captured (in the game of draughts) into an informal name for a nose.

18a     What covers Iain’s beginning, in original style o’ Scotsman? (10)
ONOMASTICS: insert the first letter of Iain into an anagram (in original style) of O’SCOTSMAN. Not a word I knew – it means the study of the history and origin of personal names.

22a/23a Basic support for toddler on which infant may count … (6-8)
TOOTSY-WOOTSIES: cryptic definition of what an infant may use when learning to count up to ten.

23a See 22 Across

24a     … revealed by odd snippets from Bridget Jones, the greatest of them all (3,3)
BIG TOE: odd letters from Bridget Jones. The definition refers back to 22a/23a.

25a Capital city is, by the way, where we are currently cycling (8)
KATMANDU: string together a conjunction that can mean ‘by the way’, the country we live in and an abbreviation for ‘currently’ then cycle the letters around.

26a Find pain of old regret returning (6)
EUREKA: charade of an old word (or an old spelling) for a word meaning pain and a verb to regret with the whole thing being reversed. Find here is a noun, i.e. a discovery.

27a Like empty vessel lieutenant takes on short visit to Nod? (8)
NOISIEST: this refers to a proverb relating to what empty vessels make. An informal way of referring to a Navy lieutenant (2,1) is followed by a nap without its last letter.

Down Clues

1d Coming together in sport at opening, Princes lift Royal Galas? (6)
SCRUMP: a coming together of forwards on a rugby field followed by the opening letter of Princes.

2d I’m not sure virus is pretence (6)
HUMBUG: a word of hesitation and an informal word for a virus.

3d/17d Bat Out of Hell, Dead Ringer and Bad Attitude are just routine (3,2,1,4,4)
ALL IN A DAY’S WORK: if you look up the birth name of the singer famous for the songs listed (Marvin Lee ADAY) as I had to you’ll appreciate the brilliance of this clue.

4d Specifically how craftsman’s getting on after introduction to trade floor (3,2,5)
TIE IN KNOTS: the abbreviation for specifically and how mariners measure their progress at sea (2,5) follow the first letter of trade.

6d/19d Respond to early call, perhaps hit wicket? (4,4,6)
STIR ONE’S STUMPS: this could be what a batsman does in error prior to being given out ‘hit wicket’.

7d Prince Myshkin, eponymously short, receives orphan girl (3,5)
THE IDIOT: a short or dram contains the name of a fictional Swiss orphan girl.

8d Denounce the pay scale of the MD? (8)
EXECRATE: split the answer 4,4 to get what might be the pay scale of an MD (Managing Director, not doctor).

13d A timeless legend duets with song and dance fan (10)
AFICIONADO: assemble A, a legend or myth without the abbreviation for time and a word for ‘song and dance’ or fuss.

15d Playing surface within reach of Raiders? (3-5)
LOO-TABLE: a piece of furniture designed for a specific card game could mean (if the hyphen is removed) within reach of raiders.

16d Ex is someone without a yen? (2,6)
NO LONGER: someone without a yen or yearning could be thus described.

17d    See 3 Down

19d    See 6 Down

20d Intended sponsorship short of one name (6)
FIANCÉ: a word for sponsorship or funding without one of its abbreviations for name.

21d Missing singular companion, Bigfoot ready to spring out of the Ark (6)
ASQUAT: start with a North American word for a large primate said to inhabit remote areas (SASQUATCH) and remove the abbreviations for singular and companion. The answer is an archaic (out of the Ark) adjective meaning crouching, ready to spring.

I enjoyed 10a, 27a and 4d but my runaway favourite was 3/17d. Which one(s) did you choose?

27 comments on “Toughie 2999
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  1. Elgar once again getting good use of those new hob-nailed boots he got for Christmas. As Gazza says, it was a case of slowly but surely filling in the grid. I did know the real name of the singer of the songs listed in 3d and this clue, and others, made up quite a long list of favourites

    Thanks very much indeed to Elgar and to Gazza

  2. Way beyond me, I’m afraid. Too many obscurities and, therefore, no real enjoyment but could someone, at some stage, please explain 10A? Hope “Trim” tomorrow is not even harder!! Thanks

    1. For 10a you need to use the letters corresponding to the lowest prime numbers (the ones I’ve listed in the hint) from the first three words, i.e. tRIm BeEf maYbE.

  3. Finished, but with an unhealthy number of unparsed bung-ins, so I cannot in all honestly say I completed it fully. This was probably the toughest Toughie I have attempted, and it was a genuine struggle. I have to ask myself whether or not I enjoyed it, and the jury is still out. 5a was my favourite, mainly because it was difficult yet parsed.

    Thanks to Elgar for the considerable challenge, and thanks and congratulations to Gazza for explaining it.

  4. Well, got there in the end but only because we could check the answers as we went and quite a few we couldn’t parse. Not much fun.

  5. This came as a shock this morning – I thought I would quickly dash off a Toughie before breakfast… ha! Got there in the end with fully five answers not fully parsed, and some new knowledge. 10a – brilliant, didn’t spot the prime connection at all; 11/12a – still don’t quite see how those last five words mean ‘practice’, but I’m sure the BRB would put me right; 14a – ‘uffed’??; 25a – missed ‘atm’, of which I am ashamed; 3/17d, well I never knew that! You live and learn. Now I need to go for a lie down. I wonder what tomorrow will bring…

    1. 11/12a practice is listed under ‘order’ in the BRB (I did check) – I’m not sure exactly how, possibly as in ‘a point of order’?
      14a ‘uffed’ sounds like huffed. To huff (in draughts) means to take or capture an opponent’s piece (apparently derived from the one-time practice of blowing on the piece).

      1. Ah, OK, thank you – I should have said, in accordance with rightful custom and basic decency, thank you for your blog. Honestly, I don’t know how you do it! Though re: 14a, I was thinking along the same lines as halcyon (below) and, like him, struggled to put it all together. But perhaps Elgar was just being super-fiendish in teasing us with a parsing that doesn’t quite work, if you’re right and the correct one is actually fairly straightforward…

      2. I took it as Bereavement Cards/Funeral Mass Cards, etc., usually have some sort of black edge/border, such as, lines or crucifixes, etc . A border.

  6. Had I known who the setter was, I would have thrown in the towel after 26a, which was the last of only four I managed to solve!

  7. With the notable exception of the wonderful 3/17d this was more slog than fun – the old Elgar at his most indulgent.
    I failed to parse 25a [I’ve never come across atm = at the moment??] and, whilst I’m not disagreeing I’m not fully convinced of your parsing of 14a Gazza. If you’re correct it’s a dreadful clue – clumsy definition and [h]uffed doesn’t really mean taken. We have snuff = tobacco and extinguish; snout = nose and also tobacco; dout = extinguish and also tobacco [ie fag end] and ff [loudly] – but I can’t come up with anything convincing. Sorry to go on and thanks for the blog.

  8. Having regularly completed the back page crosswords I thought it was about time I tried a Toughie. Failed miserably (completed about 7 clues). I’m hoping this was a particularly tough Toughie. If not, I’m not going to try again!

    1. You picked one of the most difficult setters for your first go at a Toughie. Have another go on a Tuesday or Wednesday as they are usually (but not always!) friendlier

  9. The best and the worst of Elgar on display. 3/17d was my favourite. Brilliant. But 22/23a is one of the most dreadful ever.

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