Toughie 3032 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3032

Toughie No 3032 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Joy, we have a 7-word Nina today. 5* time but steady progress. Enjoy.


1    Mark time digging into what got Socrates started? (6)

STIGMA: The abbreviation for time is inserted (digging) into the first letter (what got … started) of Socrates, in his own language

5    Books confiscated by Twitter billionaire after review (8)

LIBRETTI: Reverse hidden (confiscated by … after review)

9     Garment for one during a bad winter/one after a good spring (4,6)

LONG JUMPER: This athlete could also be a useful garment in winter

10    Doing a twirl, I’m sorry to interrupt 17’s Dutch attention seeker (4)

AHEM: A reversal of an interjection meaning ‘I’m sorry?’ (as in ‘pardon?’) goes inside the person who would be 17’s Dutch

11    Many embarking make up a fleet (8)

FLOTILLA: A word meaning many goes inside (embarking) a word meaning ‘make up’ (as in a prescription), plus A from the clue

12    Go to ground, just ahead of course! (4,2)

HOLE UP:    The answer would mean just ahead in golf (of course)

13    Whom jungle-man to start afresh wants for wife? (4)

JANE: The first letter (to start) of jungle-man plus a 4-letter word meaning afresh, but without (wanting for) the abbreviation for wife

15    Grand day to open fifty mayonnaise plants (8)

GLADIOLI: The abbreviation for grand, then the abbreviation for day is inserted into (to open) the Roman numeral for fifty plus some (garlic) mayonnaise

18    Authority? These days, editor ignored has none (3,3-2)

THE SAY-SO: Take THESE DAYS from the clue, remove (ignore) the abbreviation for editor, and add the letter that looks like zero or none

19    Stylet chaser has taken to? (4)

ETCH: Hidden (… has taken). A stylet is an engraving tool, a chaser is someone who engraves, so a stylet chaser may well have taken to (the answer)

21    My chauffeur and I fib about clipping nose of Volkswagen Beetle (6)

WEEVIL: A pronoun that would describe ‘my chauffeur and I’ (which matches surface), then a reversal (about) of a word meaning fib contains (clipping) the first letter (nose) of Volkswagen

23    Wearing my old university hat loony grabs my partner? (2-6)

CO-AUTHOR: Within (wearing) an exclamation that means ‘my!’, we have the abbreviation for old, then the abbreviation for university grabbed by an anagram (loony) of hat. The answer could be the setter’s partner

25    Part of an Indian legend with a final twist? (4)

SAAG: A legend or epic in which the last two letters are swapped (with a final twist)

26    Why is one of these southerners mistaken for Yorkshirewoman? (10)

MOONRAKERS: A word for Wiltshiremen. An anagram (mistaken) of WHY IS plus the singular form (one of …) of the answer gives YORKSHIREWOMAN

27    Sadly ignorant folk will find bliss here (3,3-2)

TIR NAN-OG: An anagram (sadly) of IGNORANT. The answer is a paradise in Irish mythology. The clue refers to the ‘ignorance is bliss’ proverb.

28    Info soldiers conveyed with it? (6)

SITREP: An abbreviation for betting odds in horse racing that is colloquially used to mean info or dope containing (conveyed, as in carried) an abbreviation for some soldiers following (with) IT from the clue


2    One not wanted on IT list (5)

TROLL: IT from the clue but without (not wanted) the Roman numeral for one, and another word for list

3    Legendary giant among British compilers polled future leading lights? (2-7)

GO-GETTERS: A 3-letter legendary giant in British folklore plus a word for compilers missing the first letter (polled)

4    Paris Fashion: who transfixes in the style of stars? (6)

AQUILA: The French (Paris fashion) for ‘who’ goes inside a (1,2) expression (also French) for ‘in the style of’

5    It hurts bores did a number on buddy after upsetting drink (7,8)

LAPSANG SOUCHONG: A 4-letter exclamation meaning ‘it hurts’ goes inside (bores) a (4,4) phrase that means ‘did a number’ (on stage perhaps), all after the reversal (upsetting) of a 3-letter buddy

6    Times keeps moving around a third anniversary (8)

BIRTHDAY: A 2-letter word that can mean times in arithmetic contains (keeps) an anagram (moving around) of A THIRD

7    Message not normal material but abstract art (5)

EMAIL: An anagram (not normal) of MATERIAL but remove (abstract) the letters in ART

8    Joe & co initially caught in limbo but conversely keeping up (3,6)

THE PUBLIC: A reversal (conversely) of the initial letters of ‘caught in limbo’ plus BUT from the clue containing (keeping) a 3-letter word meaning ‘up’ (as in ‘informed’)

14    Pronunciation of Hebrew while nurse is in hospital loo (9)

ASHKENAZI: A 2-letter word meaning while, then an abbreviation for nurse is inside (in) the abbreviation for hospital and a 4-letter word for loo

16     Study image put together in it? (9)

IDENTIKIT: A word meaning a study plus a 4-letter Polynesian image go inside IT from the clue


17    Pop song? (2,3,3)

MY OLD MAN: The answer is a song title meaning pop

20    Sign one of my books? He’s forgotten (6)

TAURUS: A book the compiler might use but with the HE’S missing (forgotten)

22    Particular about fare for one boarding what 17 suggests we should follow (5)

VEGAN: A Latin abbreviation meaning ‘for one’ or ‘for instance’ goes inside (boarding) a vehicle that 17 said to follow in the song

24    Shabby Scottish messenger is out of credit (7)

OURIE: The answer is a Scottish word. Take a 7-letter word meaning messenger and remove (is out of) the letters in the abbreviation for credit

Lots of clever clues. I enjoyed seeing a namecheck and my favourite tea, I liked the Tarzan story, and my favourite is the southerners, a lovely smooth surface. Which clues did you like?

11 comments on “Toughie 3032
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  1. Finished this in remarkably short time for a 5* Elgar Toughie – alas without parsing most of the SE corner. Probably it was only the flash of inspiration that solved the Greek clue that got me going. That makes 1a my favourite.

    As usual with Elgar, the brb was essential. None of my Irish, Scottish, Polynesian or Wiltshire knowledge were sufficient to solve this unaided. So a great education as well as great fun.

    Thanks to Elgar for a 5* puzzle (normally rated 7* by my reckoning) and to Dutch for explaining those that baffled even when solved.

  2. Not quite this setter’s usual 6 star difficulty , as I got most of them ! Slight detraction to the enjoyment factor was the two ” impossibles ” [ 27a and 24d ] except for our Hibernian brethren . Despite having lived in Wilts for last 2 years , havn’t been described as a 26a yet ;I thought they would be SW [ ie Devon / Cornish ] – easier to smuggle when you’re on the coast surely ? Thanks to both .

  3. Failed on the last one in 28a. Not a word I knew and couldn’t see what to look for.
    Quite a bit of research involved to find the land of eternal youth in 27a or the nicknames for people in Wilshire and the Scottish slang for shabby.
    No problems however with the beetle as it ate my two palm trees.
    Go and have a look for the elusive Nina now.
    Thanks to Elgar for the usual remarkable cluing and to Dutch for the review.

  4. Completed but with two or three unparsed bung-ins, par for the course with this setter. I was completely beaten by 10a, but that apart, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. The complexity of the clueing was remarkable, even for this setter, and with a Nina for good measure (which I shall now look for). Quite astounding.

    My thanks and admiration to both Elgar and Dutch.

  5. Well the covid brain-fog must be abating cos I finished it, but there were 3 [26,28,8] I failed to completely parse. I enjoyed it a lot, especially 1 and 10a and raced thro the NW corner, but then slowed down and found the SE a struggle. I can see “and out” but the rest of the NINA eludes me.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  6. Very belatedly commenting having finished this super puzzle last evening. It took me a long time to get a toe-hold (SW) but then progress was steady before finishing at a decent trot albeit with a bemused “that’s the answer, I’m sure” feeling as I wrote in the last few. My only gripe really was 27a: nothing ‘general’ about that bit of knowledge, the word play doesn’t really help, and while it could have been nothing else the answer appears variously as 3,3-2; 3,2,3; 3,3,2; 3-3-2. Needless to say the Nina quite escaped me!

    Many thanks to Elgar, and to Dutch for explaining why nearly a half-dozen of my answers were what they were.

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