Toughie No 3053 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View comments 

Toughie No 3053

Toughie No 3053 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by StephenL.

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Hello everyone from a super sunny South Devon coast.

I once read in a book by disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong that one should do something that takes one out of one’s comfort zone every day. With all the literary references this puzzle certainly did that, I found it quite challenging but very enjoyable so thanks Donnybrook.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Unhappy? In pieces, presumably! (3,2)
CUT UP: This adjective meaning very distressed could whimsically describe someone in pieces or not whole.

4a This has plot penned by a woman (4,4)
ADAM BEDE: Start with A from the clue then place a (garden say) plot inside (penned by) a titled woman, giving a book first published in 1859 and a clue which serves as wordplay and definition.

10a We hear adulterer spotted quick one! (7)
CHEETAH: A homophone (we hear) of a word that could describe an adulterer or anyone who acts dishonestly. Lol


11a Instinctive person sure to succeed (7)
NATURAL: Double definition, one an adjective the other a noun

12a Really good cook‘s old bouncer retrained (6,4)
CORDON BLEU: Anagram (retrained) of the preceding two words.

13a Glaswegian companion leaving whisky? (4)
SCOT: Remove (leaving) the abbreviation for a Companion of Honour from an informal name for whisky.

15a Swift traveller, bird lodged in shelter shortly before another tucked into meat (6,8)
LEMUEL GULLIVER: Start by inserting a large flightless bird into a three-letter shelter without (shortly) its last letter then insert a bird prevalent in my part of the world into some organ meat. The Swift here is an Irish novelist.

17a Famous Italian goalie, agile, I’ll foul (7,7)
GALILEO GALILEI: Nothing to do with football, the GOALIE is part of the anagram (foul) fodder as is AGILE and I’LL, giving a famous astronomer

20a Cornish region not viewed in country paradise (4)
EDEN: Remove the abbreviation for the region of England in which Cornwall lies from a Scandanavian country. Very clever.

21a Amateur player from insanely rich nation (10)
CORINTHIAN: Anagram (insanely) of the following two words.

23a Whip suited Chief of Staff’s offices in the House? (7)
STUDIES: A very cleverly disguised anagram (whip) of SUITED plus the initial (chief of) letter of Staff. I rather like this one.

24a Chicken is served with rook hearts and wine (7)
RHENISH: The abbreviation for Rook, a female domestic fowl IS from the clue and the abbreviation for Hearts.

25a Poet in some Hebridean island on time (3-5)
DAY-LEWIS: Append the northern part of a Hebridean island to a period of time equal to 24 hrs to give a former poet laureate.

26a Judge returns lacking initial answers (5)
MEETS: Remove the initial letter from a synonym of judge in the sense of consider and reverse the result.


1d Brand about to be absorbed by companies, all limited, in recession (4-4)
COCA-COLA: Insert a Latin abbreviation for about or CircA into two instances of the abbreviation for COmpany and append a reversal (in recession) of AL(l) without its last letter (limited) to the result.

2d This writer brought up to follow the Golden Rule? (7)
THEOREM: A reversal of a first person pronoun (this writer) follows THE from the clue and the heraldic symbol of gold.

3d Way to get over cold detailed by dope causing disease? (10)
PATHOGENIC: A charade of a synonym of way in the sense of a trail, the abbreviation for Over, a synonym of dope in the sense of information and a stretched synonym of cold without its last letter (detailed)

5d Rage in The Iliad distressed divinely comedic writer! (5,9)
DANTE ALIGHIERI: Anagram (distressed) of the preceding four words giving an Italian writer whose works include The Divine Comedy.

I have to play this absolute classic.

6d Beverage that stimulates partner (4)
MATE: Double definition, the less obvious a stimulating South American tea.

7d Echo Spider-Woman dropping new complaint (7)
EARACHE: Start with the letter represented by Echo in the phonetic alphabet then remove the abbreviation for New from a “spider-woman” in Greek mythology.

8d Ostentation came at first in story read the other way (5)
ECLAT: Insert the initial letter of Came into a reversal of a story.

9d White blokes in tussle when covering great crime movie (3,3,8)
THE BIG LEBOWSKI: Anagram (in tussle) of WHITE BLOKES placed around a synonym of great or large.

14d With spy boss, unsuccessfully watch online channel (10)
MILLSTREAM: A charade of a fictional spy boss created by Ian Fleming, a synonym of unsuccessfully or wrongly and a method by which we may watch something on a computer or tablet say.

16d People’s Princess finally discharged so in the pink? (8)
DIANTHUS: Another clue that involves the deletion of the final letter, (nevertheless very clever) this time from the first name of the “People’s Princess” plus a synonym of so or therefore.

18d Ring round village for some old pagan worshippers? (7)
AVEBURY: A cryptic definition giving the ring illustrated

19d French here succeeded in LA base, free from clerical status (7)
LAICISE: Place the French word for here plus the abbreviation for Succeeded inside LA from the clue and a mathematical base. A new word for me but the wordplay is crystal clear.

20d Given relief since being trapped in rising river (5)
EASED: Place a synonym of since or because inside a reversal (rising) of one of crosswordland’s most popular rivers.

22d Tree bearing gift from Prometheus (4)
FIRE: A three letter tree and a compass bearing, very clever.

Tough but as ever with this setter there’s a lot of clever stuff in there. My extended podium is 4a plus 10a for the amusing surface read along with 23a and 3d.




30 comments on “Toughie No 3053
Leave your own comment 

  1. I must be on the same wavelength as Donnybrook as I didn’t find this too tough. Other compilers I struggle with CS would give ** Delighted. Great fun. Many light bulb moments and smiles.
    Thanks to StephenL and Donnybrook

  2. I couldn’t get 18d nor 23a nor 26a.
    I never realised that Dante was the poets first name.
    My favourite was 3d.
    Thanks to Stephen L and Donnybrook.

  3. An excellent puzzle – many thanks to Donnybrook and SL.
    My main problem, having only a vague memory of the film, was putting the letters of the last word of 9d in the correct order.
    I ticked 15a, 7d (which reminded me of my favourite Guardian setter), 16d and 22d but my top prize goes to the superb 4a.

    [It’s the last word 26a that needs underlining]

  4. Yes, this one worked a treat for me too – being a bit more on the arts/lit side of things. But a bit baffled by 18d, even though it was easy enough to fill in. It feels like more of a General Knowledge clue. Is there a cryptic element in there that has blown straight over my head? Meantime, thanks to Donnybrook and StephenL. We’re from South Devon too, but currently on a little Greek island. May not mention to my husband that the sun has (finally) come out at home, or he will start fretting about his plants…!

    1. Linda, I think the cryptic element in 18d is the setter wants you to take “ring round” in the wordplay as telephone.

  5. I really enjoyed the challenge with Donnybrook on top form. The only thing that was new to me was 9d but there was only a couple of feasible options for the final word using the anagram fodder and which fitted with the checkers.

    The brilliant 4a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Donny B and to SL.

  6. A good start to the toughie week. I spent a while wondering if there was something more to both 11a and 18d – clearly not. Re the clever 23a I suppose “whip” could have the same effect as “beat up” -that gets a prize, as do 4a, 16d and 22d.
    Thanks to Donny and to SL.

  7. I cannot believe I am the first one to comment! It has never happened before, but I did fairly race through the back page and then my ego was knocked back by this beauty. How clever. I would never have cracked it without your wonderful hints Stephen and I only then had to do two reveals. Far too many goodies to choose a favourite, but 12a,20a,24a and 7d had daisies. I was proud of myself for getting 3d without a hint, in fact the top LH corner went in quickly before I had to look for help. I think we all deserve a glass of 24a – it sounds so wonderfully decadent. Many thanks to the doorknob and SL.

  8. Haha. Thought it was too good to be true. By the time I hit post I was well over the start line. It still felt good!

    1. Well done Daisygirl….but when I read your initial comment I thought “OMG, I’ve inadvertently wiped the previous comments!”

  9. A splendid crossword taking me a 2* Toughie time with an award of 5* for enjoyment

    My favourite clues were 4a, 7d and 18d, the latter taking so long for the penny to drop, you’d never think we’d been there

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and Stephen

  10. Needed a bit of assistance from Mr G with this one but finally made it across the finishing line.
    Clues that appealed were 10a plus 7,16&22d with a smile for 14d – the name of the cottage in which I lived with my daughters many years ago.

    Thanks to Donnybrook for the brain-stretching and to Stephen for the review.

  11. I’m not averse to a few literary refs in a tough puzzle, especially not one that’s this good. A good few corkers here, plus the winner, which is 4A.

  12. The wine in 24a was new to me and I had to check the first name in 15a and the last name in 5d. I worked out 4a but when I checked it I realised how clever it was so cotd. Altogether a classy bit of compiling. Thanks to Donnybrook and SL.

  13. We needed more general knowledge for this one, so into **** for us. Not so keen on 4ac, but loved 19d

  14. I got 18d but didn’t believe it, hence my visit. Very good Donnybrook. Thank you. Favourite clue 4a

  15. A bit of assistance was needed for the names and a couple of reveals were used but, on the whole, I am feeling pretty chuffed with my efforts. The wine was new to me as was 19d so something learned.

    Many thanks Donnybrook. It is the first time I have come anywhere near solving a Toughie by your good self. Thank you, SL for explain a couple.

  16. Excellent puzzle, and would have been one of my quicker NYDK solves had I spelt the Italian poet’s surname correctly, heard of the film (one of those where one works out the answer from all the checkers and keeps fingers crossed that it’s correct!) or been able to parse 20a and therefore been confident of my possible answer and its contribution to 18d.

    Stephen – I think 18d is an all-in-one: part of the village of 18d sits inside the 18d ‘ring’ itself. Darned if I can really see a cryptic element to the clue, though.

    Many thanks indeed to Donnybrook and Stephen:L

    1. For 18d I originally had it that way Mustafa. As I said in my reply to Linda, I think the cryptic element is that the setter wants you to read “ring around” as make telephone calls..that’s how I read it but I could be wrong.

  17. A Toughie for the ages, to be sure, and one that I just soared through until I hit that little SE corner. I kept thinking, as I enjoyed one literary clue after another, that this one was made for me (special favourites: 4, 25a), but once all of the GK had been happily solved, I hit a wall with 14d and had to seek some letter-reveals and even then needed Stephen’s explanation to grok it! Shucks. Should have been the most celebrated finish in a long time, but I just goofed at the end. Thanks to SL and Donny for the total treat.

  18. Found this very challenging & especially down south where 2 letter reveals were required to stagger across the finish line in addition to looking up the Inferno fella’s surname & the big man’s first one (never read any Swift nor seen any of the numerous GT adaptations). Knew the Eliot novel but not the plot so the clever def was somewhat lost on me. Both the plonk & flower unfamiliar yielding only after revealing the checker though ought to have twigged from the wordplay. Greek myth not really my forte either but 7&22d my top 2 with 18d pipping 10a for the last podium spot. The utterly brilliant Coen Brothers 9d isn’t really a crime movie but that’s a minor niggle in a great guzzle.
    Thanks the Donny & Stephen

  19. That was an enjoyable and challenging puzzle, thanks Donnybrook. I didn’t know the wine (I’d have had more luck with Schumann’s 3rd symphony) or the Divine Comedian’s surname but as a Wiltshire lad, born and brought up within spitting distance of the other stone circle, I didn’t have a problem with 18d. We watched the brilliant series on Sky Arts with Frank Skinner and Denise Mina about Swift and Pope which helped with 15a.
    Thanks to Stephen for help with parsing a couple of clues, not least the wine….I had rooster pencilled in to start with!

  20. Late in the day for me but a splendid puzzle like this deserves all the plaudits it can get. Some excellent clues, especially the literary ones, with my rosette going to 4a.

    Thanks to Donny and SL.

  21. 18d was our last one in as we had to dig deep into memory files to remember that, and 21a was a definition we had not met before.
    Quite challenging and hugely satisfying to solve.
    Thanks Donnybrook and SL.

  22. Good evening
    The Toughie is normally way out of my league, but today I got 7 solutions, which is a gradual improvement on my last attempt. That’ll do me!

  23. Thanks StephenL for a great blog, and to all commenters. I’m glad you enjoyed this one.

    The AVEBURY clue is a cd, as the ring literally goes around the village, using the phone call idea to send solvers down the road the other way, as blogged. I’m not sure I’m able to ring round the village, so as to contact some pagans, as I live in Bromley, where many people have artificially pouty lips and wear Burberry. But you never know …


    1. Yes – thank you so much. And to Stephen for the extra explanation. It’ll be impossible to visit Avebury now without that clue ringing in my ears …

Join the Conversation, Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.