Toughie 3020 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View comments 

Toughie 3020

Toughie No 3020 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Oh no! My heart sank as I saw the Nina. Our condolences Sparks. How do you give an enjoyment rating for such a sad message? Many of the across answers apply to 12a

Please leave a comment


1a    See you, more than once, during overture to Ernani (3-3)
BYE-BYE: A 2-letter word that can mean during plus the first letter (overture) of Ernani, then repeat (more than once)

5a    Go through the motions as issue backed on record (4,4)
MARK TIME: A reversal (backed) of a word meaning to issue follows (on)a word meaning to record or indicate

9a    European papal edict that is pleasant without beginning to invite enthusiasm (10)
EBULLIENCE: The abbreviation for European, a 4-letter word for a papal edict, the abbreviation for that is, and a 4-letter word for pleasant without the first letter (beginning) of invite

10a    Insignificant short chap escaping unavoidable fate (4)
TINY: Take a 7-letter word meaning ‘unavoidable fate’ and remove the shortened version of a man’s name (‘short chap’)

11a    Magnificent valley moguls regularly visited (8)
GORGEOUS: A 5-letter deep valley plus the even letters (regularly visited) of ‘moguls’

12a    Lively plonk quaffed by Sunday on vacation (6)
SPARKY: A word for plonk or place goes inside (quaffed by) Sunday without the inner letters (on vacation)

13a    Did fly perhaps gather with colony leaving river (4)
SWAM: Take a 5-letter word meaning ‘gather with colony’ and omit (leaving) the abbreviation for river

15a    Milking former luvviedom? (8)
EXACTING: A 2-letter word for former plus a trade full of luvvies

18a    Shorter fighter, not one grasping question (8)
BRUSQUER: A 7-letter fighter or strong aggressive person without the ‘I’ (not one) but including (grasping) the abbreviation for question

19a    Framework made of, primarily, seasoned wood (4)
SASH: The first letter (primarily) of seasoned plus a type of wood

21a    In Cyprus, hotel that’s horrid and rude (6)
CHEEKY: The IVR for Cyprus contains (In … ) the abbreviation for hotel plus an interjection meaning ‘that’s horrid!’

23a    Charming adult party with half-hearted chatter (8)
ADORABLE: The abbreviation for adult, a party or function, and a 6-letter word meaning chatter without one of the central pair (half-hearted)

25a    Outwit what could follow all the next level (4)
BEST: A word that could follow ‘all the’, ‘next’ and ‘level’

26a    Unlimited short article reprinted and inflated (10)
RHETORICAL: An anagram (reprinted) of (unlimited) (s)HOR(t) ARTICLE

27a    Look back on space travelling — they’re off! (8)
ESCAPEES: A reversal (back) of a word meaning to look follows (on) an anagram (travelling) of SPACE

28a    Intimate relationship initially stifled by brute (6)
FRIEND: The first letter (initially) of relationship is contained in (stifled by) a brute or demon


2d    Tough young people mostly absorbing books (5)
YOBBO: An informal 4-letter word for ‘young people’ without the last letter (mostly) contains (absorbing) twice the abbreviation for book

3d    Pluck outside of pheasants, say, or other kinds of sport (4,5)
BALL GAMES: A slang word for pluck or courage goes around a type of meat exemplified by pheasants

4d    One expected to make final tried running round Oval? (6)
EDITOR: An anagram (running) of TRIED goes round an oval (letter)

5d    Birds mass then cross into Western Sahara erratically (4,11)
MANX SHEARWATERS: The physics abbreviation for mass, then the letter that looks like a cross goes inside (into) an anagram (erratically) of WESTERN SAHARA

6d    Current regulator‘s letter from Greece intercepted by English immediately (8)
RHEOSTAT: A Greek letter contains (intercepted by) the abbreviation for English, then a Latin abbreviation meaning immediately

7d    Fish stuck in waste trap (5)
TETRA: Hidden (stuck in … )

8d    Partial cover-ups of leg fine in short skirts (9)
MONOKINIS: A 2-letter word for a cricket leg-side plus a 2-letter word/abbreviation meaning fine or alright go inside (in) some short skirts

14d    Shy, retiring, getting husband demoted without deserving contempt (9)
WORTHLESS: A reversal (retiring) of a word meaning shy or cast with the abbreviation for husband moved to the bottom (demoted), then a word meaning ‘without’

16d    Conductor of opera concerned with repeated upset (9)
TOSCANINI: The name of a well-known opera, then a preposition that can mean ‘concerned with’, reversed (upset) and repeated

17d    Frank after service not on VAT radar? (4-4)
DUTY-FREE: A word meaning frank follows a word that can mean service

20d    Go work in post office, collecting fines (3,3)
POP OFF: The abbreviation for a work goes in the abbreviation for post office, then twice the abbreviation for fine

22d    Special edition, 50 per cent of 1, perhaps (5)
EXTRA: Half of 1a would be a cricket term that also describes the answer

24d    Get rest around middle of afternoon (5)
LEARN: A word for rest (as in rest against) goes around the central letter (middle of) afternoon

I liked the anagram of ‘WESTERN SAHARA’ and the fine leg in short skirts, but my favourite was the cheeky pheasant plucking. Which clues did you like?

16 comments on “Toughie 3020
Leave your own comment 

  1. Great puzzle!
    I dipped in and out of it throughout the morning whilst doing other things and each time I thought I’d reached an impasse I’d get a PDM on the next visit. In the end it came together nicely.
    4d was simple but outstanding, as was the lol 27a&20d but favourite was the brilliant 3d.
    Many thanks indeed to Sparks, commiserations for the loss of your pet, and Dutch (I may need you to clear up a couple of parsings) for the top-notch entertainment.
    The illustration for 8d was er….most informative!

  2. Loved this as it is the right difficulty for my enjoyment. Didn’t spot the Nina but it doesn’t sound good. Been in this position too many times.
    RIP 12a
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch

  3. A wonderful tribute for a much-loved and departed friend. This was at the easier end of this compiler’s spectrum but no less enjoyable. I can’t improve on our blogger’s selection of favourites.

    Many thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  4. A sad message contained in an excellent puzzle.
    25a LOI. Very clever!
    Thank you to Dutch and thanks and commiserations to Sparks.

  5. Quite by chance, my first two answers were those for 1&12a. Almost called it off at that point but battled on in the hope that my dread would prove to be groundless.
    You gave him a wonderful life, Mark, I can only thank you for letting us know that he’s gone off to chase birds and rabbits in a place where he’ll be rid of earthly pain.
    Run free, Sparky :heart:

  6. Thank you, Sparks, for a super Friday puzzle, and my sincere condolences. You’ve paid Sparky a lovely tribute.

    COTD for me the laugh-out-loud 3d, but a very rewarding grid from beginning to end.

    Thank you also to Dutch. All I can/dare say about 8d is that it looks incredibly painful!

    1. When I read in order 1a, 10a, 11a, 12a, then 21a, 23a, 25a, 28a, let alone 3d, 13a & 27a, I cannot but think of one of our own long-gone terriers.


  7. Found this a lot easier and enjoyable compared to the Friday back pager.


    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch

  8. Lovely puzzle with a sad message about a dear departed friend. Like today’s back-pager, I found this a perfect level for my ability; a few to get me started with plenty to stew on. The Western Sahara reference reminded me of a recent project for a Moroccan company I worked on, where if anyone or any document referenced the disputed state it caused our client to get very upset indeed – the US formally declared Moroccan sovereignty in 2020. My podium includes 3d, 8d and COTD goes to 25a

    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch
    RIP Sparky

  9. It’s the first time I’ve ever read a blog through watery eyes, and I can’t thank you all enough for your beautiful sentiments, many from those who appear to be well experienced in such matters. It means so much to both me and Mrs Sparks. A lot of other blogs could draw a lesson from the support and camaraderie shown here, so thank you Dutch, for a superb blog, and to all bloggers, a.k.a. distant friends, who seemed to have enjoyed the puzzle. We had a wonderful journey with Sparky and now we’re enjoying a new path with our gorgeous ‘rescue’ border collie. All the best to you all, and heartfelt thanks once more. Here’s Sparky on his first walk and last holiday.

    1. I think some of us worked through the puzzle with tears in our eyes, I certainly needed a tissue to hand.
      Many thanks for the memorial photos of Sparky and I hope your new friend takes away some of the pain. What name have you chosen for him/her?

      1. Thanks Jane. A bit ‘whooshy’ reading this blog again! Here’s Tia the border collie: she arrived 30 months ago, more-or-less feral, and is now the hiking companion I dreamed of :D

        [PS How do you add animated gifs to your posts? When I copy and paste a link to such a gif, it just shows the URL rather than the gif itself. Thanks.]

        1. She looks like a real bundles of fun, I’m sure you’ll have many hours of pleasure in each other’s company. Thanks for letting us see a photo of her – makes her seem more ‘real’! Nice to meet you, Tia.

          I’m not very IT friendly but Bog Dave posted a list of emoticons the site supports and they’re listed at no.23 in the FAQ (frequently asked questions) section shown at the top of the blog page. Just click on it to get the drop box.

    1. Thanks Paul. A great song for a great dog in a tiny body! Thanks for making my life richer by bringing Cardiacs into it! :)

Join the Conversation, Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.