Toughie 3040 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3040

Toughie No 3040 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Much of this went in steadily, but I got struggled towards the end

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


9a    Fly solo over diminishing country steeped in history (2,2,5)

GO IT ALONE: The abbreviation for over plus a 5-letter European country without the last letter (diminishing) are inserted (steeped in) a word that can mean history (as in, ‘it’s history’)

10a    Reviving air mail area code for the Emerald City? (5)

OZONE: Split (2,3), the answer could be the mail area code for the Emerald City

11a    Mick, call Ms Hillary? Friends again? (2,8,5)

ON SPEAKING TERMS: The answer suggests a homophone (indicated by first two words) of academic periods. Thus, ‘Mick, call Ms Hillary?’ is a homophone of the autumn and spring academic periods at Oxbridge

12a/13a    Prize-fighters as title contenders will punch but finish last (5,2,3,4)

BRING UP THE REAR: A 4-letter word meaning prize-fighter collectively plus a (2,5) phrase suggesting they are at the peak of their career (‘as title contenders’) all goes inside (will punch) a word meaning but or except

15a    Sequence in which five notes becomes four imbues new Michael Tippett work (1,5,2,3,4)

A CHILD OF OUR TIME: A scale of 2-letter notes in which the central 5 notes become ‘FOUR’ from the clue  – goes inside (imbues) an anagram (new) of MICHAEL

19a/22a    Old two-piece settee grandly unveiled repeatedly then chosen for similar (7,3,4)

DOUBLET AND HOSE: Remove the outer letters twice (unveiled repeatedly) from ‘settee’ and ‘grandly’. The first gives you a (6,1) and the second a conjunction. Then, remove outer letters (for similar) from ‘chosen’

24a    Position: kilometre between; hence zero – then eventually in boundless supply! (4,6,5)

LIKE LONDON BUSES: A 3-letter word meaning position contains (between) the abbreviation for kilometre – next, the letter that looks like zero and the last (eventually) letter of ‘then’ go inside an anagram (supply) of BOUNDLESS

26a    Doctor Zhivago author held this back (5)

STERN: Hidden ( … held this) in the name of the author of Doctor Zhivago

27a    Warm and affectionate nurses upset Charlie? (4,5)

TAIL-ENDER: A 6-letter word meaning warm and affectionate contains (nurses) a word for upset


1d    Money-changing villain suffers current depreciation? (4)

AGIO: A Shakespearean villain in which the physics abbreviation for current is shifted down two places (suffering …

2d    Metalworker is in time to work with this medium (8)

TINSMITH: An anagram (to work) of IN T(ime) + THIS M(edium)

3d    Ne’er-do-well asked for disused goods? (3,3)

BAD EGG: An old-fashioned way (disused) of saying ‘asked for’ plus twice the abbreviation for good

4d    Cross palm with investment of a sub-£1000 postal order (8)

COCKAPOO: A species of palm tree contains (with investment of) A from the clue underneath (sub) the abbreviation for a thousand ponds plus the abbreviation for postal order. Here are my two reprobates:

5d     Nitrogen cycle of 26 chemist (6)

NERNST: The chemical symbol for nitrogen plus the answer to 26 in which the first two letters have been cycled to the rear

6d    Order two of each in the end, clever clogs? (8)

FOOTWEAR: An anagram (order) of TWO OF, the abbreviation for each, and the last letter (in the end) of clever

7d    ‘A little cryptic’, our setters’ line (6)

COURSE: Hidden (A little …)

8d    A way to escape the Yard (4)

MEWS: Two meanings, the second a street or yard of housing or stables

12d    In proposal, one’s managed to make mark (5)

BRAND: Take a 3-letter proposal, and covert the Roman numeral for one to a word meaning ‘managed’

14d    Official subject line, Adam emailing back to the Almighty? (5)

REEVE: Split (2: 3), the answer reads as the subject line of an email Adam might send to the Almighty!

16d    Romantic musical all about Sandi T’s right-hand man? (2,2,4)

LA LA LAND: An anagram (about) of ALL plus first name and initial (mimicking Sandi T) of the person sitting to the right of her in QI

17d    Ordinary singer and ordinary song work together! (8)

ORATORIO: The abbreviation for ordinary, a singer or informer, the abbreviation for ordinary, and a song title

18d     Puritan resistance quelled by one in fair position (8)

IRONSIDE: The abbreviation for resistance is squished between (quelled by) the Roman numeral for one and ‘in fair position’ in football

20d    To avoid embarrassment, trouser-wearer braces himself for this maintenance bill! (6)

UPKEEP: The embarrassment-avoiding reason a trouser-wearer uses braces!

21d    Sustained work done by fielding side, having dropped opposition’s opener (6)

TENUTO: A (3,3) achievement by a cricket fielding side (the whole team but the opener, say) – then lower (drop) the first letter (opener) of ‘opposition’ to the end

23d     Like protagonists in Holy Grail, we assume with a new soundtrack (6)

DUBBED: We can assume the Knights of the Holy Grail have been ******

24d    Fail to keep to having a shave (4)

LOSE: A 6-letter word meaning ‘to’ without the outer letters (having a shave)

25d    “Class” or “type” nails it (4)

SORT: Hidden ( … nails)

I enjoyed clever clogs, and of course the cross, but my favourite (made me laugh out loud) is Adam’s email to the Almighty. Which clues did you like?

10 comments on “Toughie 3040

  1. I needed to look up the author but otherwise this was steady if not speedy progress. I liked 11a and and 24a although the former required a bit of a head scratch to see the parsing.

    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

    1. Alternative parse of 24a (perhaps an Elgar variation ?) fail as the definition and then “to keep to” being a five letter verb with the first letter shaved.

  2. This was a mighty struggle from start to finish but I got there. As usual for a Friday I needed our blogger’s help with some of the parsing that eluded me during the solve. My admiration for both setter and reviewer continue to grow each week. I have to agree that the email clue is quite brilliant and has to be my favourite.

    Thanks to both Elgar and Dutch.

  3. Some of the best of Elgar here. 15a must be one of the cleverest clues for years [even tho it’s a giveaway] and 14d one of the wittiest. 19/22 is also pretty damn clever and 12d shows he can do “normal” well, as well. But oh dear,11a – not for me. And as for Duran Duran…
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch for the blog.

  4. Top half went rather well but the SE took ages.
    Failed on 8d and 21d though.
    As usual, very clever cluing from our master.
    I saw Framboise and Fifi the 4d only yesterday.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

    1. You’ve shortened your previous alias so this comment required moderation. Both versions will work from now on.

        1. According to Chambers as well as being a street or yard of stabling, mews is also a way of escape through a hedge, etc

          1. mews1 see under mew3
            meuse1, muse or mews /mūs or mūz/
            A way of escape through a hedge, etc

            intransitive verb
            To pass through a meuse

            ORIGIN: OFr muce a place for hiding things
            mew1 /mū/
            intransitive verb
            (esp of a cat, kitten, or gull) to make a thin, high-pitched cry

            This sound

            interjection (obsolete)
            Expressing derision

            ORIGIN: Imit
            mew2 /mū/
            A gull

            ORIGIN: OE mǣw; Du meeuw, ON mār, Ger Möwe
            mew3 /mū/
            transitive verb
            To shed, moult or cast
            To change, as the covering or dress
            To confine, as in a cage
            intransitive verb
            To shed antlers or feathers
            To moult
            The process of moulting
            A cage for hawks, esp while mewing
            A coop
            A place of confinement
            A retreat
            A hiding-place
            ORIGIN: OFr muer, from L mūtāre to change
            mews or meuse /mūz or mūs/ noun

            (orig pl of mew, now commonly as sing with new pl mews’es) a street or yard of stabling (often converted into dwelling-houses or garages), so called from the king’s mews at Charing Cross when hawks were succeeded by horses

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