Toughie 3042 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3042

Toughie No 3042 by Stick Insect

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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

Stick Insect returns with another Wednesday Toughie crossword

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1a    Union’s backstop is two powers blocking a French queen’s return (6)
PRENUP Two abbreviations for power going round (blocking) a reversal of the French feminine indefinite article and the Latin abbreviation for queen

4a    How a stupid eccentric, denied papers, becomes lefty (8)
SOUTHPAW An anagram (eccentric) of HOW A STUPid without (denied) identity papers

9a    I have found Californian city! (6)
EUREKA An interjection expressing discovery or the name of a city in California

10a    Italian food adopts right note for sliced meat (8)
PASTRAMI Some Italian food ‘adopts’ the abbreviation for right, the third note of the tonic sol-fa scale being added at the end

12a    Unconventional Western celebrity lout takes Independent (8)
BOHEMIAN A reversal (Western in an Across solution) of a celebrity and a lout, into which is inserted (takes) the abbreviation for Independent

13a    Centres in Peking, Bulgaria and Polish capital (6)
KIGALI The capital of Rwanda is obtained from the letters in the centres of peKIng bulGAria and poLIsh

15a    Overtaking, in error, salesman travelling back through China (13)
OUTPERFORMING A simple way of saying in error, a reversed (travelling back) salesman, a synonym of through and some Chinese china

18a    Runner in drama to stir cast (13)

22a    Lying open, one undergoing treatment has heart removed (6)
PATENT Remove the middle letter (heart) of one undergoing medical treatment

24a    Lively chap I wed loses head (8)
ANIMATED Remove the first letter (loses head) from a way of saying “chap I wed”

26a    Gangster crosses street for finishing touch (8)
CAPSTONE The surname of an American gangster goes round (crosses) the abbreviation for street

27a    Brown barrel Bill sent back (6)
WALNUT A reversal (sent back) of a barrel and a Bill

28a    Gorges along east flanks of airport start to sink (8)
OVEREATS A preposition meaning along, the abbreviation for east, the outside letters (flanks) of AirporT and the ‘start’ to sink

29a    Skiers hurt mouth (6)
KISSER An anagram (hurt) of SKIERS produces a slang term for the mouth


1d    Boorish decline to enter work (6)
PLEBBY A verb meaning to decline ‘enters’ another meaning work steadily

2d    Warm to her, poor lowly creature (9)
EARTHWORM An anagram (poor) of WARM TO HER

3d    Sunk empty bottles — not smart (7)
UNKEMPT Hidden in (bottled by) sUNK EMPTy

5d    Female abandoning Western country (4)
OMAN The abbreviation for Western abandoning a female

6d    Cheaper brand of champagne I once knocked back no good in retirement (7)
TATTIER Remove (knocked back) the first I to be found in the name of a champagne brand and (in retirement) the abbreviation for no good

7d    Square up a record involving literary outsiders (5)
PLAZA A reversal of A (from the clue) and a type of record into which is inserted (involving) the letters at the ‘outsides’ of the alphabet (literary meaning ‘related to the letters of the alphabet’)

8d    Sails, getting success in fish (8)
WHITINGS A success inserted into (in) some sails

11d    Food adds a stone in some Asian countries (3,4)
FAR EAST Some food or provisions with (adds) A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for stone

14d    Insult a fine compere (7)
AFFRONT A (from the clue), the abbreviation for fine and a compere

16d    Bothers artist in working around river (9)
IRRITANTS An anagram (working) of ARTIST IN into which is inserted (around) the abbreviation for River

17d    Almost see father choked, missing fly in soup (8)
GAZPACHO Almost all of a verb meaning to see or look long and steadily, an informal father and CHOked missing the wingless, sheep-infesting fly I’ve fortunately only met in crosswords!

19d    Grandmother uncovered what perhaps Romans got from Paul Newman? (7)
NANETTE A pet name for a grandmother and the inside (uncovered) of what St Paul wrote to the Romans

20d    Drums start, I’m panicking within (7)
TIMPANI Found within starT IM PANIcking

21d    Programme’s boss travelled north to secure that certain something (6)
EDITOR A reversal (north in a Down solution) of a synonym for travelled, into which is inserted (to secure) a two-letter word meaning exactly what one is looking for (that certain something)

23d    Crow’s nest? (5)
TEPEE The home (nest) of a member of a particular North American Indian tribe (Crow)

25d    One example of tree twine, we hear (4)
UNIT A homophone (we hear) of a type of tree and a verb meaning to twine or twist together


21 comments on “Toughie 3042
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  1. Having just seen your star rating CS, I will retire to my bed for an hour and attempt to tackle this Toughie.

  2. For me this was a slow burner; a quiet start but then a race to the finish. It was a most entertaining solve, with several clever and convoluted clues, particularly 4, 22a and 19d.

    My thanks to both Stick Insect and CS.

  3. I am surprised that the fish can take an s to pluralise, but I didn’t waste energy picking up my BRB to check. Crow’s nest! Brilliant!!

  4. I enjoyed this although 27a took me way too long.

    I didn’t manage to parse 12a and still don’t see lout no do I really get in error in 15a. On a more positive slant I thought 19d was really good.

    Thanks to CS and Stick Insect.

    1. 12a is a reversal (sent in a western direction) of NAME (celebrity) HOB (lout) with I (Independent) inserted

  5. Very enjoyable, I always look forward to this setter’s offerings, he invariably produces a few smiles.
    I wasn’t convinced by “Western” as a reversal indicator at 12a (Going west or westward yes) and hob for lout is a bit obscure though it’s in the BRB so to me it’s not the best clue but it didn’t spoil the overall fun.
    I particularly liked the un-PC 1d, plus 17&23d
    Many thanks to Stick Insect and to Sue for the review.

  6. A good midweek Toughie with some entertaining clues – thanks to SI and CS.
    I didn’t know the 6d brand of champagne so I had to ‘reverse engineer’ what was the obvious answer to get it.
    I ticked 1a, 7d and 19d (who remembers her advertising Fairy Liquid?) but my favourite was the d’oh producing 23d.

    1. She’d doubtless be disgusted to learn that it’s the first thought that pops into my head whenever her name is mentioned!

  7. I didn’t enjoy this as much as previous puzzles from this setter as it seemed a bit of a curate’s egg. It also seemed tougher than usual, but perhaps the two things are connected.

    I can’t equate “through” and “for” in 15a, even though some thesauri seem to suggest otherwise. Can anyone provide a sentence which demonstrates equivalence please?

    Re 27a, a Bill is not a law. It is a proposal to make or change a law and, when passed, it becomes an Act.

    23d was my favourite.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to CS.

  8. I found this much trickier in solving than on completion I felt I should have done when looking back through it. For me more a Thursday than a Wednesday, but that was a wavelength thing. Very good puzzle.

    Hob/lout new to me and 12a remained unparsed until reading the hints afterwards – thank you, CS. I’d never heard of the Californian city but it could have been little else; an eyebrow lifted a few times (the plural fish, along/over, through/for); a loud clang of a penny dropping when on parsing the soup I remembered ‘ked’.

    23d quite inspired, a contender for clue of the month/year.

    Many thanks to Stick Insect and to CS

  9. Needed the hints to parse 12a as I’d not heard of the lout yob yes hob no, 6d not heard of the champagne and still don’t know and the error in 15a is also a new one on me. The rest were all within my compass though there was a lot of head scratching going on. Another vote for 23d as cotd. Thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

    1. One of the many definitions of out (and there are many!) is ‘in error’
      I knew of the champagne (our neighbours are keen on it) but didn’t realise the third letter of the name was an I

  10. I had a couple of GK failures with the lout and the fly but Mr G came to the rescue. Like RD, I wasn’t convinced by through = for but I see that Jose has provided a fairly plausible example.
    A few strange surface reads but also some golden touches, my favourite being 23d. Other rosettes going to 26a&19d.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to CS for the review – loved the pic of the fish!
    By the way – 17d reminds me of a holiday years ago when the hotel we stayed in made a wonderful version, think I opted for it most evenings.

  11. We had problems in the SE. With 16d we assumed bothers was a verb and had the wrong ending which messed up 27a. Eventually sorted.
    An enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Stick Insect and CS.

  12. Enjoyed this & happily on wavelength for a brisk pre lights out solve. 12a unparsed (never heard of hob for lout) & didn’t realise the lopped off ked was the fly. The 9a city needed confirmation & also surprised 8d had an S. Another vote for last in 23d as pick of a fine bunch
    Thanks to SI&CS

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