Toughie 3104 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3104

Toughie No 3104 by Elgar

Hints and Tips by Dutch

difficulty 5* entertainment 5*

IT issues today, my laptop is being repaired (I hope) so apologies for lack of pictures and any other errors

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought and how you did


8 As stoic will apply war paint? (3,1,5,4,2)

PUT A BRAVE FACE ON: Two meanings, for the second think American Indian

9 Gift of money upset poll (3)

TIP: Three meanings

10 Lacking in sensitivity, gossip sums up Jack’s career with vocal exchange (11)

ANAESTHESIA: Some 3-letter gossip or anecdotes, then a 2-letter verb that can mean ‘sums up’ plus a (3,3) phrase for  ‘Jack’s career’  – with two vowels swapped (after vocal exchange)

11 Made picture back to front after blowing one’s top (5)

DRAWN: A reversal (back) of a word meaning ‘to front’, but without (blowing) the initial (top) letter of ‘one’

12&16d Folk etc at odds with each other’s feelings? (7,2,3,5)


15 Conductors stream alternative current (7)

MAESTRI: An anagram (alternative) of STREAM plus the physics abbreviation for current

17 Best worker’s sacking, repeatedly losing the tool (7)

PICKAXE: A phrase for best and a phrase for ‘worker’s sacking’, both losing the first word THE

19&5d Church of England uneasy with this unfulfilled hot episcopal question? (2,3,4,8)

IS THE POPE CATHOLIC: An anagram (uneasy) of CE + THI[s] (unfulfilled) + HOT EPISCOPAL

20 Vertical deviation (5)

SHEER: Two meanings

21 Flower people fashion short skirts (6-2-3)

FORGET-ME-NOT: A 3-letter word for people has a word for fashion and a word for a short in  a pub around it (skirts)

24 As performed in teatres in Okkaido and Onsu? (3)

NOH: Split (2,1), this Japanese drama explains what peculiar spelling is performed in teatres

25 Value off-road hypermarket? (3,5,5,2)

LAY GREAT STORE BY: Two words meaning large shop are positioned in a (3-2) word for a piece of road away from traffic, hence an off-road hypermaket


1 Joiner from another union posted engaging uplifting discussion with love (4-6)

STEP-PARENT: A 4-letter word meaning posted contains (engaging) a reversal (uplifting) of a 3-letter discussion and a term of endearment

2 Get on a bit lively (6)

OBTAIN: An anagram (lively) of ON A BIT

3 Liqueur bar stocks a punch with a bit of oomph (10)

MARASCHINO: A chocolate bar contains (stocks) A from the clue, a type of boxing punch, plus the first letter (bit) of oomph

4 Diners out together in force; that will need sorting (4)

MESS: Two meanings, the first a dining arrangement in the forces

5 See 19 Across

6 Chas & Dave finally out of banter (4)

TEAS: Take a 5-letter word for banter or make fun of and remove the last letter (finally) in Dave

7 If round, has — chopping like this — parts neatly evenly cut? (2,4)

IN HALF: IF from the clue goes round H[as] (chopping ‘like this’) which parts the regular letters in neatly (evenly cut)

8 Cross check ascending summit here (7)

POTSDAM: A reversal (ascending) of words meaning cross and check

13 Bobby reportedly aware of what drinking may cause (6,4)

COPPER NOSE: A word for bobby or policeman and a homophone (reportedly) of his being aware

14 Keeping check, screen wrong price list? (5,5)

SHARE INDEX: Containing (keeping) a word meaning to check, we have a word for screen, plus the character used to indicate an answer is wrong

16 See 12 Across

18 A chance of Heaven? No! (7)

EARTHLY: A reference to a “type” of chance (not heavenly), more often expressed in the negative

19 Completely empty, losing lead after cycling climax on Champs-Elysees (2,4)

IN FULL: A 4-letter word for empty or zero without the first letter (losing head)  comes after a French word of climax or finish that has the first letter moved to the end (cycling)

20 A little churlish to Omar’s mum (6)

SHTOOM: Hidden (a little …)

22 Beams put up in auditorium (4)

RAYS: A homophone (in auditorium) of a word meaning ‘put up’

23 Average/poor design (4)

MEAN: Three meanings

Lots of great clues; I particularly liked the hot episcopal question. Which were your favourites?

19 comments on “Toughie 3104
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  1. Hello, Dutch – sorry to hear about your computer troubles. So tiresome. Mostly this was relatively easy for Elgar (still 5*, but only just, I’d say) – I was helped by quickly seeing some of the longer ones like 8a, 25a and my obvious favourite 19a/5d. I’m still a bit troubled by 10a, though: I’d never heard of the first three letters as a word, but OK. If the next two letters are really a word meaning ‘sums up’ then that leaves the last six … but I don’t see a vocal exchange, only one vowel needing to be switched for an ‘e’. Am I missing something?

    Notwithstanding which, as always I am mightily impressed that you’ve got the blog out so quickly and comprehensively, and even more in awe of Elgar’s extraordinary clueing. Favourite today probably 6d – beautifully hidden definition.

    1. Re 10a [which I also failed to parse] I now think the vowel in the 2-letter word is swapped with the middle letter of the last 3-letter word. – hope that’s clear!

    2. Some friends at a mental health place have completely revamped my very sick laptop. Some genius spent two days working on it, installed a ssd, fixed some bizarre stuff that escapes me completely and I now have what is essentially a fast new machine. Free. So grateful. It has gone from 100% disk activity to zero.

  2. A couple of bung ins, but not unusual for a Friday. I lost the will to live trying to parse 10a but thought 25a was superb. Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  3. This was a pretty good struggle that had me going beyond my normal solving time for an Elgar. I, like FR at #1, struggled to parse 10a, but that was my biggest delay in solving this brilliant puzzle. In common with my co-commenter, I too went for 6d as favourite, my penultimate entry.

    Thanks to Elgar for the considerable challenge, and to Dutch for his blog.

  4. Probably the easiest Elgar for some time, helped by getting 8a right away. Laughed out loud at 6d and admired the wit of 25a, so they get my votes. Also struggled to parse the impenetrable 10a so thanks to Dutch for putting the light on. And thanks to Elgar for the puzzle.

    1. You’ve used a different alias to the one used in your previous comment in 2020 so this needed moderation. Both aliases will work from now on.

  5. I got off to a quick start by getting several long answers but then slowed somewhat. In the end it was a DNF as I failed to think of anything for 6d. On reading the blog I felt quite silly missing the plural of chas – such a common crossword word! I also failed to think chocolate for “bar” which is also silly as this has cropped up a few times recently. I still do not understand 10a – some of the short words forming the answer are, I presume, unknown to me. I have not heard of 13d but it was an easy guess.

    An enjoyable challenge – so thanks to Elgar – and thanks to Dutch for the blog which was needed (but insufficient for 10a which remains a mystery to me)

    1. Dutch’s comment at 3:26 came as I was typing so I did not see it in time – this clears up the mystery of 10a.

  6. I’m not going to get involved with this as Elgar is always beyond me . I just enjoy reading the blog.
    Which brings me to 8a Surely the expression is “ put on a brave face”?

  7. Fabulous stuff. Every fortnight Elgar delivers, long may it continue. 19a was brilliant, 6d my clue of the week by far. Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

  8. I did not like 10a. In the end I saw a different reasoning for the solution.
    Sums up is ES, because E resembles the sigma used for a sum in mathematical notation. Jack’s career is THE CIA, referring to Jack Ryan (not Jack Sparrow). The vocal exchange swaps two letters that sound the same, S for C.
    I also have never heard of ana.

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