Toughie 3018 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3018

Toughie No 3018 by Django

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Toughie Difficulty *Enjoyment ****

Many thanks to Django for another enjoyable crossword – some of the clues making you have to think a bit harder, but the whole finishing, for me anyway, in a nice start-of-the-week Toughie time.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


4a    Withdrawing from sports ground, say, carrying racket (8)
RECEDING An informal name for your local sports ground and the abbreviation meaning for example, into which is inserted (carrying) a loud noise (racket)

8a    Excellent member of parliament’s missing from showpiece sporting event (6)
SUPERB Remove the bird whose collective noun is a parliament from the annual championship game of the US National Football League

9a    In retrospect some questioned if an obituary’s real (4,4)
BONA FIDE Hidden in reverse (in retrospect) in questionED IF AN OBituary

10a    Welcome unwrapped moist cheese (8)
HALLOUMI A word of greeting (welcome) and the inside letters (unwrapped) of an adjective meaning moist

11a    Veneers/inlays regularly falling out, weirdly (6)
EERILY The regular letters of vEnEeRs InLaYs

12a    At the opening, Gene Vincent perhaps thanks first label (5,3)
PRICE TAG The surname of Vincent, the American actor probably best known for playing Dracula, followed by an informal of thanks which goes first before the opening letter of Gene

13a    Publicly known in just less than one minute (2,6)
ON RECORD The first two (less than) letters of ONe and a verb meaning to set down in writing (minute)

16a    Shape of drug addict, conclusively knocked out by measure of acid (8)
SPHEROID Knock out or remove the T (addict conclusively) from a type of drug and replace with the letters referring to the number used to express degrees of acidity

19a    Warning for golfer breaking seventy on vacation with tips from Tiger Woods? (8)
FORESTRY A golfer’s warning cry to anyone in the way of the ball followed by the ‘tips’ from TigeR ‘breaking’ the outside (on vacation) letters of SeventY

21a    Repaint cycles — ignoring one — it could be boring (6)
TREPAN A tool (and/or medical instrument) used for boring holes is obtained by ‘cycling’ or moving the last letter of REPAiNT to the front of the word, while ignoring the letter representing one

23a    Call bingo, somehow overlooking a line but getting very simple “house” (3,5)
LOG CABIN An anagram (somehow) of CALl BINGO without (overlooking) one of the abbreviations for line

24a    Monumental spread maybe gripping pollsters (8)
MEMORIAL An array of food (spread) taken at one time,  ‘gripping’ an abbreviation for a company known for conducting market and opinion research

25a    Bring back unlimited salt in rice cake (6)
ÉCLAIR Insert the inside (unlimited) letters of sALt into RICE and then reverse (bring back) the result

26a    Building a base next to tip (8)
BUNGALOW A (from the clue) and an adjective meaning base go after (next to) a slang word for a bribe (tip)


1d    Help a courier to accommodate next in line on the phone (2,5)
AU PAIRS A (from the clue) and the initials of a courier/parcel delivery service into which is inserted (to accommodate) a homophone (on the phone) of a person next in line

2d    Copy of new receipt including 50 per cent off sale (9)
REPLICATE An anagram (new) of RECEIPT and (including) 50% of sALe

3d    Short sword unsheathed with essentially blunt point (6)
ABRUPT Remove the outside letters (unsheathed) of a type of sword and then add the ‘essential’ letter of blUnt and the abbreviation for point

4d    Cross about game before knock down — that hurt spirit (5,10)
ROBIN GOODFELLOW A medieval personification of a spirit (used by Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream):  a cross found in churches goes around the game found in the clue for 23a, a verb meaning to knock down and an interjection expressing pain being added at the end

5d    Artist supporting John Bishop on TV show — Australian acts are made here (8)
CANBERRA The home of the Australian Parliament (where Acts are made), the ‘usual’ abbreviated artist supports or goes under a slang name for a lavatory (john), the chess abbreviation for Bishop and an American TV show

6d    Ruin suit (2,3)
DO FOR Amongst a number of definitions, the solution can either mean to ruin or to suit

7d    Managed to control board game set up — it’s gnarly (7)
NODULAR A reversal (set up) of a synonym for managed into which a board game has been inserted

14d    Telegraph covering working street artist (9)
CONSTABLE A message sent by telegraph goes over (covering) the usual two-letter ‘working’ and the abbreviation for street

15d    Blue tablet — what’s soft becomes hard for “event” (8)
DOWNHILL Blue or miserable followed by a tablet where the musical abbreviation for soft is replaced by the abbreviation for hard

17d    Level ground — not base for climber? (7)
PARVENU Someone newly risen into wealth, notice or power (climber) – a state of equality (level) and a ground without (not) the letter representing the base of the natural system of logarithms

18d    Partner that is hiding runs for level ground? (7)
PRAIRIE A verb meaning to couple (partner) and the abbreviation meaning that is, ‘hiding’ or having inserted the cricket abbreviation for runs

20d    Scaffolder‘s prompt — taking roof off (6)
RIGGER Remove the first letter (taking roof off) from a verb meaning to prompt or set off a chain of actions

22d    Pop star Lizzo can sing last of all to make point (5)
PRONG The last letters of poP staR lizzO caN sinG

There did seem to be a lot of ‘letter-removing’ going on, and a couple of clues where it helped if you had heard of the [fairly-clued] solutions, but this didn’t detract from the enjoyment



22 comments on “Toughie 3018
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  1. This was an enjoyable challenge and, as usual with this setter, several clues were much more tricky to parse than they were to solve.

    I’m not sure why “just” is needed in 13a.

    Many thanks to Django and to CS.

    1. Hi Rabbit Dave. I think “just less than” is a much fairer indication that we are only one letter shy of the whole thing. O is also less than one. We often see ‘virtually’, ‘almost’ etc etc used to indicate that the last letter is missing and I think they all tend to strongly suggest that it is almost all of the word we are looking for – which feels fairer to me than just something that just means ‘some but not all of’.

  2. Well that was fun. Not particularly difficult but enjoyable to unravel. I really liked 8a, which had a great surface.

    My thanks to Django and CS.

  3. I thought this was great, I do prefer this setter in his Telegraph guise where I think he pares down the excesses of some of his compilations elsewhere (stricter editing?) without losing the ingenuity and wit of the wordplay.
    I liked 1d (where he has used that courier service before (remember “upsy-daisy”?) and I thought 8&13a were so clever,19a was just brilliant and I also liked 1,5 and 17d but they are all topped by the magnificent 15d, one of the best clues I can remember. Great stuff
    Many thanks to Django and Sue for a top blog.

    1. I seem to recall his last Graun puzzle, which I thoroughly enjoyed, got a bit of stick from a few for exactly the point you make. I rarely look at the Indy so haven’t done many of his Bluth ones. It’d be interesting to know if he is subject to stricter editing on these pages. I reckon he’d tell us.

  4. Terrific Toughie and excitingly enjoyable even though I was flatly defeated by 10a (didn’t know the cheese) and 1d (should have got that!), but a happy DNF nonetheless. 4d was my favourite but 8a and 17d gave Puck a good run for his money, as did a good number of others. Thanks to CS for helping me fill in the NW corner and to Django who has bested me once again.

    1. And 15d gets better and better as the day gets longer and longer. I sussed it out correctly early on but its witty brilliance didn’t properly hit me until hours later.

  5. A pleasant and not too challenging puzzle – thanks to Django and CS.
    Top clues for me were 8a, 4d and 5d.

  6. Definitely like this setter’s style.
    Thanks to Django for the super fun and to CS for the review.

  7. Super puzzle, absolutely wonderful. I found the challenge a marked step up from yesterday’s Toughie but still readily achievable once I’d tuned in to Django’s mindset. Having said that, I possibly took as long with my final 5 clues (in the NW) as I had with most of the rest of the grid! Needed CS’s blog (thank you) to parse what I’d written in for 8a – showpiece it may be on the other side of ‘the pond’, but it’s not something that penetrates my consciousness from one year to the next.

    So many great clues – Hon Mentions to 16a, 4d and 17d; I laughed out loud at 15d: great surface read. COTD for me was 11a, such a clever clue and surface.

    Many thanks to Django and to CS.

    1. The combination of the solution to 8a and the parliamentary bird often turn up in crosswords and the idea of an 8a xxx always makes me smile

      1. I don’t think Vincent Price ever actually played Dracula. Just saying! Thanks for the review & thanks to Django.

  8. We needed lots of checkers and a bit of research for 4d and the company in 24a was new to us, so not as straightforward for us as others are reporting.
    A pleasant solve.
    Thanks Django and CS.

  9. The right hand side went in first with the left side a little slower but it all came together nicely.
    Very enjoyable….thanks to Django..

  10. I couldn’t get into the NW so proceeded clockwise from the NE whilst getting the hang of Django. He seems to like substitution clues and I also liked 16a and especially 15d The latter managed maximum innuendo whilst actually being totally innocuous. Well done that man and thanks for the blog CS.

  11. NW did for me. Needed the hints for some so a dnf. I enjoyed the rest though. Gas bottle was 26a. Thanks to Django and CS.

  12. Absolutely top notch guzzle. Witty, inventive, some excellent surfaces & the usual clever wordplay. Tougher than a * difficulty rating for me. As ever the parsing pennies dropped well behind the grid fill other than at 10a where I failed to unwrap humid & I didn’t twig the correct context of minute at 13a. I also felt the need for the umpteenth time to confirm 21a – when will I get it into my thick head. I suppose the lol surface at 15d gets top billing but 19a & also 8a run it pretty close. Ticks also for 1,3,4,5&14d.
    Many thanks to Django & to CS

  13. It took me a while to get into this puzzle’s rhythm but once there the puzzle fell fairly quickly for me. Django shows his usual wit and creativity all through this one, though I sometimes find he gets a bit wordy! I needed a few hints to finish, but I liked 8a, 19a with my favourite being the standout 15d – of course for that childish surface!

    Thanks to Django and CS

  14. There must be some crossword genii out there if this was a one star, ‘cos found it harder than some Friday ones! It was good fun but it still took me an awfully long time, even with hints and electronics.

  15. I’m a fan of Django’s puzzles, but I struggled with this one more than I usually do (as can be evidenced by only finishing it on Sunday!) and needed quite a few of the hint — thank you for those, CrypticSue.

    14d’s artist and 19a’s golfer got my biggest ticks, so that was several days ago now and I can no longer remember why. I’m sure lots of other clues were lovely too, and I admired the cleverness even in some that were beyond me.

    I can’t believe that I fell for the member of parliament yet again! (I didn’t need a hint, but did have an embarrassing number of crossing letters before it finally dawned on me.) I didn’t know the social climber, and I now hope that I would never use it! Cheers, all.

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