Toughie No 3025 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 3025

Toughie No 3025 by Serpent

Hints and tips by StephenL

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

Hello everyone from a bright and breezy South Devon coast.

Serpent, a setter who is always welcome here, kicks off the Toughie week with a top-notch puzzle that I found somewhat easier to fill in than fully parse, cryptic and clever throughout.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a One imitating Muhammad Ali’s rapid speech? (6)
JABBER: A verb meaning to talking rapidly or prattle could whimsically describe someone imitating Mohammed Ali or any other boxer throwing this type of punch.

5a Moving third part of Bach chorale connected with the listener at a deep level (8)
COCHLEAR: Anagram (moving) of the third letter of BaCh and CHORALE.

9a They help to produce speech, possibly providing collections of notes (5,5)
VOCAL CORDS: The parts of our anatomy in the throat that help produce speech or sound through vibration could produce a selection of musical notes if we take the first word of the solution as a homophone indicator.

10a See 12a

11a English politician experiences one’s stress (8)
EMPHASIS: A charade of the abbreviations for English, Member of Parliament, a synonym of experiences, the letter that represents the number one and the possessive S.

12a & 10a Snack barrel overturned and eaten by naughty children (6,4)
MONKEY NUTS: A large 3-letter beer or wine cask is reversed and inserted into (eaten by) an informal name for some naughty children.

13a Most of what is posted on social media is precious (4)
TWEE: A (very topical) social media post loses its last letter. I think the surface read of the clue is very close to the truth.

15a Insignificant place of interest to politicians in The Borders (8)
MARGINAL: An excellent triple definition, two being obvious, the other being a parliamentary seat with a small majority, hence of interest to politicians.

18a More blunt warnings ultimately in need of coverage? (8)
STARKERS: A comparative adjective synonym of blunt or terse and the final letter of warningS. The coverage is a reference to clothing. Lol.

19a Couple beginning to regret row (4)
TIER: Couple here is a verb in the sense of attach. Follow it with the initial letter of Regret

21a & 25a New article includes favourite piece of domestic coverage? (6,4)
CARPET TILE. An anagram (new) of ARTICLE is placed around (includes) a 3-letter synonym of favourite.

23a Note penned by unknown doctor probes several signs of complaint (8)
SYNDROME: Insert the abbreviation for Note into a mathematical unknown and an abbreviation for doctor then insert the result (probes) into a synonym of several or an unknown quantity.

25a See 21a

26a Broadcast if the writer’s keen observer of current events (7,3)
WEATHER EYE: Homophones (broadcast) of a synonym of if and a synonym of a first person pronoun (the writer)… excellent.

27a Skinned snake fed to Bob? (8)
SWINDLED: Bob here (of course) is not a person but an informal word for a means of travelling over snow. Place a synonym of snake as a verb into it, the indicator being “fed to”.

28a Issue before court might be regarded as comparatively dull (6)
MATTER: An issue under legal consideration could whimsically be described as duller of flatter.


2d & 14d Opinionated chamber supports American work (1,4,4,1,4)
A ROOM WITH A VIEW:  A cryptic definition of an opinionated chamber (bearing in mind what a chamber is an example of) “supports” or goes below in a down clue an abbreviation for American. The work here is a literary work.

3d Wooden merchandise delivered in wardrobe on The Strand (9)
BEACHWEAR: Strand here is the shore of the sea. The clothing we may be attired in if there sounds like (delivered) some merchandise made of a type of wood.

4d Poor actress almost given new part (6)
RECAST: Anagram (poor) of all but the final letter of ACTRES(s)

5d Children edge round street when one’s left with small isolated spot (9,6)
CHRISTMAS ISLAND: Start with the abbreviation for CHildren, then place a 3-letter edge around the abbreviation for street, add a synonym of when, the letter that looks like the number one, the possessive S, the abbreviation for Left and finally a synonym of with. Phew!

6d Material supplied by pool of money? (8)
CASHMERE: Follow an informal word for money with a lake or pond.

7d Recycled odd bits of nylon, denim and cotton fabric (5)
LINEN: Anagram (recycled) of NyLoN and dEnIm (odd bits of)

8d & 24d Display worst music or writing, perhaps depending on circumstances (2,3,4,3,2)

AS THE CASE MAY BE:  Four of the first five words of the clue are all types of (perhaps) the third word of the solution. Very clever and thanks to Gazza for the nudge here.

14d See 2d

16d Try to make sense of food franchise started by football team (9)
INTERPRET: Append the first word (started) of a well known food franchise with a French name to an abbreviated Italian football team.

17d Drink until we start to learn means of getting dry (3,5)
TEA TOWEL: A charade of the nation’s favourite drink, a preposition meaning until, we from the clue and the initial letter of learn.

20d It’s meant, when playing, to inspire hearts (6)
ANTHEM: Insert the abbreviation for Hearts into an anagram (when playing) of MEANT. I see this as a clever &lit.

22d Dress down writer about charges (5)
PREEN: I think this is an insertion (charges) of a preposition meaning about or regarding into a writing implement.

24d See 8d

Many thanks Serpent, excellent stuff. My stars were 9,15&26a plus 20&22d. Which ones shone brightest for you?


27 comments on “Toughie No 3025

  1. A light and rewarding puzzle to start the Toughie week – I hope it gets a wider audience than it seems most Toughies receive.

    The often verbose clues and mulltude of answers each spread across two locations threatened at first to render the puzzle apparently unfriendly, but by focusing on the single-location answers first the grid rapidly came together. I could not parse 8d/24d for toffee, though, so many thanks to Stephen/Gazza. At first I wanted 9a to end with ‘cards’, but fortunately the penny dropped in good time.

    COTD for me 27a, with 18a the runner-up (indeed running all over the pitch …)

    Many thanks to Serpent and to Stephen

  2. Just what a Tuesday Toughie ought to be, even allowing for the fact that I wasn’t sure how to parse 8/24 0thanks Gazza

    Thanks very much to Serpent and to StephenL

  3. Like MG , I could not parse 8/24d-needless to say it was the last in and still i’m not convinced!
    More difficult than the usual Tuesday puzzle in the run up to Friday where Elgar awaits.
    Liked 1a.- thanks SL for the pic.
    Going for a ****/****

  4. This was so much fun! I too had difficulties understanding my instructions at 8/24 but now Stephen and Gazza have enlightened me, isn’t it excellent. I would also mention 7d in despatches. I’m always in awe of compilers who find creative ways of clueing, so tvm Serpent and Stephen for your superb concise hints as per.

  5. I very rarely find myself here on a Tuesday – I freely admit I only drop in when I need help with parsing, which I know is bad of me, but one only has so much time in the day. Like many others it was 8d/24d that stumped me, though I did generally find this harder – but also more rewarding – than a typical Tuesday. I agree with the 3* rating, and rarely find them so tricky on a Tuesday. Perhaps tomorrow will be gentler… Oh, and yes, 8d/24d is indeed brilliant, and alone merits 5* for pleasure. Bravo, and bravo to Stephen and Gazza for figuring it out.

  6. This was just right for the first Toughie of the week, not too difficult but great fun to solve. 27a was my top clue ahead of the tricky but very clever 8/24 combo.

    Thanks to Serpent for the challenge and to SL for a comprehensive review.

  7. An excellent start to the Toughie week – thanks to Serpent and StephenL.
    My ticks went to 15a, 27a, 3d and 22d but my favourite has to be 8/24d.

  8. A very pleasant workout, that.

    Just the one quibble, surely 7d is made of flax and not cotton?

    1. I agree, this struck me as a rather disappointing blip in an otherwise exemplary Tuesday toughie.

  9. Hats off to Gazza & YS for twigging the why in the 8/24 combo. You could have locked me in a room & doubt I’d have had it parsed this side of Christmas, if ever. As Stephen says making sense of the wordplay was more difficult than the grid fill & I didn’t quite nail the parsing of the first word of 5d. Anyway a super puzzle with plenty of ticks – a hearty main course after a tasty back-page starter. 15a my fav
    Thanks to Serpent & Stephen – smiled when I read your comment about Steely Dan on 225 the other day.

  10. Add me to the list of needing help with the parsing of 8d/24d. As usual I found this harder than most but managed to complete it without needing the splendid hints apart from the aforementioned. Cotd was 18a just edging out numerous others. Thanks to Serpent and SL.

  11. Slowed down somewhat in SE corner but eventually all sorted. A pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Serpent and SL.

  12. Feeling very pleased having completed my first ever toughie, previously I have only managed one or two clues before admitting defeat. It did help that I had more time today than usual.

    Although I did not use the hints to complete it, I did use the check answer feature in the digital version which certainly helped. I had no idea how to parse many of the answers and have now read the wonderful hints and I understand most of them. I could not get my head round 8d/24d, way too clever for me. 3d was my last answer and I thought was a great clue.

    Many thanks StephenL for the hints and encouraging me to try and to Serpent for writing a toughie I could manage!

    1. Well done Miss TFide, that’s quite an achievement in the short time you’ve been doing them. I’m pleased that you completed it and that the hints helped you understand how you got there. If you carry on this progress you’ll have to change your moniker to D Miss TFide! 😉

      1. Maybe although I have an inkling that today was just a stroke of luck. Only time will tell.

    2. That was by no means a pushover Toughie so well done on your debut completion. When I first ventured into Toughiedom not that long ago I was pleased if I managed a dozen answers & parsed half of them but this site is a helluva training tool.

      1. Amen to all that, Huntsman. After two years of doing the Toughies, I find that I am still over the moon when I finish one like today’s Serpent. Congratulations to MissTFide!

    3. Congratulations, MissTFide! It really is a good feeling to finish a Toughie unaided. I have managed once but I still try each day. I got about two fifths of the way though today.

  13. Did you think I was being truant today? Well, I made it finally…have been reading the latest ‘Rebus’ mystery, which may be the best Rankin yet.

    The 8/24d combination, which I parsed only half the way, is my Clue of the Month so far in this absolutely wonderful Toughie, so thanks to Gazza. SL, et al for that. This is certainly the most impressive and most amusing Serpent I have yet completed (even if incompletely parsed when I finished it last night). I did LOL at 18a, admired 5a & 23a, and felt deeply satisfied when 3d fell–my LOI. Thanks to Stephen and Serpent

  14. Many thanks to StephenL for his excellent blog, and to everyone who has taken the time to solve and comment on the puzzle.

    1. Many thanks for popping in, it’s always appreciated by solvers and bloggers, and for another super puzzle.

  15. Failed on 1a and didn’t understand 8d.
    Great workout though.
    Thanks to Serpent and to StephenL.

Comments are closed.