Toughie No 3021 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 3021

Toughie No 3021 by Robyn

Hints and tips by StephenL

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

Hello everyone from a very mild (for now at least) South Devon coast

The much admired Robyn is in the Tuesday chair. Always a complete delight.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Throwing up fences in yard, trying to be influential (8)
LOBBYING: A synonym of throwing up (a ball maybe, usually in a high arc) “fences” the abbreviation for Yard.

9a Checked chopper heading back full of explosives (8)
EXAMINED: Reverse (heading back) a 3-letter chopper and append a word that could mean full of explosives, usually just below the surface.

10a Somewhere not very clean reported in complaint (4)
STYE:. A homophone (reported) of a pig’s home.

11a Take out sister filled with love, kindness or faith? (8,4)
ABSTRACT NOUN: Append a religious sister into which is inserted the letter representing love or nil to a synonym of take out in the sense of extract. The solution is a definition by example, hence the question mark.

13a Weary we hear after accidental result of deflation (4,4)
FLAT TYRE: The accidental here is a musical note. Follow it with a homophone of a synonym of weary as a verb.

15a A sailor, on doing a volte-face, slips (6)
ERRATA: A from the clue, a 3-letter crosswordland staple sailor and a preposition meaning on are all reversed (doing a volte-face)

16a Is this person king or prince? (4)
AMIR: If you split the solution 2,1,1 you will see the reference to the wordplay, using the Latin abbreviation for king.

17a Commercial dealer imprisoned by court stole (5)

CREPT: The usual abbreviated dealer or salesperson is inserted (imprisoned by) the abbreviation for CourT. Stole here has nothing to do with theft.

18a English runner dwelling near Bow Bells (4)
OUSE: How a residence that most of us live in may be termed in Bow Bells. The wordplay refers to the cockney habit of dropping the H from the front of a word.  You won’t see this runner on a track.

20a Slow moving bus to Spain (6)
OBTUSE: Anagram (moving) of BUS TO plus the IVR code for Spain. You won’t find this runner on a track.

21a An indefinite number of small and delightful coats looking scruffy (8)
SLOVENLY: Start with the abbreviation for Small, add a word meaning delightful or very nice into which is inserted the abbreviation for an indefinite number. The containment indicator is coats.

23a That cuisine’s represented as one with relish? (12)
ENTHUSIASTIC: Anagram (represented) of the preceding two words with the possessive S.

26a Crew’s leader I see heading for boat (4)
AHAB: A 3-letter exclamation that could mean I see or understand and the initial letter of Boat giving a fictional captain, one who wore a prosthetic.

27a Freshen things up during autumn with brewed tea (8)
INNOVATE: A charade of a synonym of during, an abbreviated autumnal month and an anagram (brewed) of TEA.

28a Hesitated, taking note from daughter with debts (8)
DITHERED: Took me a minute or two to see how this one works. Remove the abbreviation for Note from a phrase (2,3,3) meaning “with debts” and append the result to the abbreviation for Daughter.


2d Where mint sauce may be briefly running (2,3,3)
ON THE LAM: This one jumped right out at me. Remove the final letter (briefly) of the meat on which is poured mint sauce. The solution is  American in origin but it’s particularly well known in crosswordland and familiar enough in general over here. I rarely need a second opportunity to play Blue Oyster Cult.

3d Advance from unsentimental banking personnel after time off (12)
BREAKTHROUGH: Start with some time off or a short holiday. Add a word meaning unsentimental or no-nonsense into which is inserted an abbreviation for a personnel department.

4d Wrong, for instance, that’s right (3,3)
ILL SAY: A synonym of wrong (as a noun I think) is followed by another of for instance or for example. For the solution to work we need to place an apostrophe in the appropriate position of the first word.

5d Tailor is good listener (4)
GEAR: The abbreviation for Good and the listener on the side of our face. Tailor here is a verb

6d Player at the table hugging mischievous kitty (3,5)
WAR CHEST: A bridge player (at the table) goes around a synonym of mischievous or roguish, the containment indicator being “hugging”. Robyn is the master of splitting an adjective and a noun (or two nouns) to obtain misdirection.

7d Low-down rat? Not half! (4)
INFO: The low-down here is a noun in the sense of knowledge. Remove the second half of a rat in the sense of “singer”.

8d Country left leaderless after PM displays sloth? (8)
EDENTATE: A Conservative prime minister in the fifties is followed by a country or nation without its first letter.

12d Wrong answer about soldiers turning head for close shave (6,6)
NARROW ESCAPE: Place an anagram (wrong) of ANSWER around some reversed abbreviated soldiers and add a geographical head. This buck certainly had one.

14d Odds? Yes and no (5)
EVENS: These betting odds are also the opposite of odds say in the sense of numbers.

16d Bound to be seized by American agents? This eliminates shock (8)
ALOPECIA: A synonym of bound in the sense of stride is contained within the abbreviation for American and some agents from that country. Brilliant clue.

17d Maybe bishop’s staff under boxes, but not tons (8)
CHESSMAN: Take some large boxes and remove the abbreviation for Tons. Append a synonym (under in a down clue) of staff as a verb.

19d Spurs’ No.5, once quick round area, with time to dribble (8)
SALIVATE: The fifth letter of Spurs is followed by an archaic (once) synonym of quick (as in a biblical “the dead and the *****) into with is inserted abbreviations for Area and Time.

22d Apparel not in the closet with suit (6)
OUTFIT: Follow a word that has come to mean “not in the closet” in a metaphorical sense with suit or match as a verb.

24d Soprano’s award for performing? (4)
TONY: The “Soprano” here is not a singer but a fictional member of the Italian-American mafia. He shares his first name with some theatrical awards. A cryptic, come double definition clue.

25d Like people who are getting on OK dropping school subject (4)
AGED: Take a synonym of OK and remove an abbreviated school subject from the heart of the word.

Great stuff, many thanks Robyn, my  crowded podium placers are 16&28a plus 16,19&25d. Which clues were your medal contenders?




23 comments on “Toughie No 3021
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  1. Cracking not-too-Toughie with which to start the week, and for once I tuned in to Robyn’s wavelength from the off, seeing what was required in each clue with quite unfamiliar – but most welcome – clarity. Could pick almost any of the clues as being highlights but shall limit to 16a, 26a & 8d, with top step on the podium shared by the quite brilliant 11a and 16d.

    2 / 4

    Many thanks indeed to Robyn and of course to Stephen

  2. Always good to have an actual Toughie on a Tuesday and this one has the added bonus of being another excellent crossword from Robyn

    Many thanks to him and SL

  3. Another super puzzle from Robyn – thanks to him and StephenL (I did laugh at the 13a cartoon).
    My medal contenders were 1a, 11a, 26a and 6d with 28a taking the gold.

  4. Top notch as ever. Thought it a fair bit tougher than Sunday but still relatively gentle by Robyn’s standards. Ticks aplenty but if confined to 3 of each I’ll go for 1,21&28a (loved the wee ones at 16,18&26a too) plus 6,8&16d.
    Thanks to Robyn & Stephen – confidently went all in that BOC would feature at 2d. Just finished JH’s Graun prize puzzle from Sat which I thoroughly recommend

  5. This was tough for a Tuesday, but a joy to solve.

    2d was a new phrase for me, and 28a was my favourite with a special mention for 11a.

    I don’t think “once” in 19d is necessary as that meaning of quick is still current in a religious sense. Also I would have said that the definition for 5d is inaccurate. “Tailor” means “gear to“. The BRB agrees on both these points.

    Many thanks to Robyn and to SL.

    1. RD. Collins has tailor and gear as synonyms in the sense of both equip and modify. Mirriam-Webster has them as synonyms too.
      “The holiday will be tailored/ geared to your every need”

  6. I will gladly add my name to those who thought the top clue was a toss up between 11 and 28a; both quite brilliant and I cannot separate them. The whole grid was an absolute delight to solve, and we are fortunate indeed to have a setter of this calibre on the books.

    My thanks to Robyn and SL.

  7. Superb as ever as many have already said.
    20 is so elegant in its simplicity and silky surface.
    16 down put a smile on my face with its lovely humour.

    Thanks all

  8. Didn’t know the expression in 2d and with regard to 18a, the ‘English runner’ isn’t pronounced in the same way as the cockney dwelling.
    I did quite enjoy 13&26a along with 14d.

    Thanks to Robyn and to Stephen for the review.

    1. Jane, I don’t think it matters that the pronunciation is different as there is no homophone indicator. It’s just a reference to the cockney habit of dropping the H.

      1. Surely when a cockney drops the H he doesn’t also alter the pronunciation of the rest of the word? I certainly can’t think of an occasion where that occurs.

        1. I had the same thoughts as you initially but as I see it the pronunciation is not relevant as the wordplay refers only to the cockney habit of H-dropping, not to how someone from that area would call the dwelling.

  9. Enjoyed this a lot – plenty of fine clues – faves were 13a [accidental] 27a and 28a.
    Thanks to Robyn and SL.

  10. It took me well into what would have been ***** time on the backpager, but since I never fret the time element when doing Toughies, I just moseyed along–happily, even blissfully, smilingly (esp. with 2d, 26a & 24d)–until I finished, all by my lonesome. Needed SL’s parsing help with 28a, which now becomes my favourite, but just about any pick at random would suffice. Splendid puzzle. Thanks to Stephen and Robyn.

  11. Defeated by 6d and 24d for which I needed the hints, also needed the hint to parse 3d and hadn’t heard odd 2d before. The rest I just found difficult. There’s always tomorrow. Favourite was 8d. Thanks to Robyn and SL for the much needed hints.

  12. Was totally stuck with 2d and the two 16s and had to come to the blog for answers.
    Couldn’t get passed leg for the last word in the former but briefly for “on the leg of lamb” was probably a bit much.
    Favourite is the reversed charade in 15a.
    I do love charades. Even backwards ones.
    Thanks to Robyn and to StephenL for the review.

  13. Many thanks, all, and especially to StephenL for the ever-excellent blogging.
    My understanding of 18 across is that it’s just two separate definitions: English runner = OUSE, and dwelling near Bow Bells = ‘OUSE. Apologies if that wasn’t conveyed very clearly.
    Hope everyone has a great week!

  14. Thanks to Robyn and to StephenL for the review and hints. I managed to solve 8 clues unaided. Had to look the rest up. I can never seem to get anywhere with Robyn’s puzzles. Everything was all fairly clued, so I’m going back to the drawing board. It may be a wavelength thing and is definitely a misdirection thing. Hope I can fare better with the next Robyn Toughie.

  15. Late as ever on toughie duty, I found this pretty stiff for early in the week, but well worth persevering with. Good clueing as usual from this setter with the expected mis- directions in place. 16d was a new word for me, but 2d presented no problems (my first one in), thanks to the aforementioned 6d was my LOI & COTD.
    Usual appreciation for this first-class setter and thanks to StephenL for the equally top-notch blog.
    PS. Sorry Stephen, I live off Dylan, Coletrane, Knopler, et al but you can keep BOC……each to his own!

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