Toughie 3155 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3155

Toughie No 3155 by Django
Hints and tips by Gazza

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

This is the type of Toughie which I really like – one where the toughness comes from tricky wordplay and deceptive definitions rather than obscurities. I found this one challenging but had no need to consult the BRB or Mrs Google for the meanings of words – many thanks to Django for the enjoyment.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a Caught when young soldier briefly falls (7)
CASCADE: assemble the cricket abbreviation for caught, a conjunction meaning when and a trainee soldier without his/her final letter.

5a Spotted solicitor was winning (7)
PIMPLED: a disreputable person who solicits and a verb meaning ‘was winning’.

9a Almost tragic — on Tube, Sol Campbell’s going round the wrong way (5,3,2,5)
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR: a very impressive ‘reverse hidden’.

10a More than finished (4)
OVER: double definition, the first a preposition meaning ‘in excess of’.

11a Left one-against-one at the back — Pickford’s fuming (5)
LIVID: string together the abbreviation for left, two occurrences of the Roman one bracketing an abbreviation meaning against and the last letter of Pickford. The surface is football-related with Pickford being the name of an England goalkeeper.

12a Try stiletto (4)
STAB: double definition, stiletto here being a verb.

15a Study metal — tip of angle grinder, for example, is largely made of this (7)
DENTINE: put together a study, a metal and the last letter of angle.

16a Sensible old woman goes on jog, back in training (7)
NURTURE: an adjective meaning sensible or grown-up without the affectionate word for one’s old woman follows the reversal of a verb to jog.

17a Disposed of agency worker — chose less work (7)
TEMPTED: an agency office worker and a verb meaning chose without the usual abbreviation for work.

19a Retirement spot finally read honour roll in reverse order (4,3)
BUNK BED: we need a) the final letter of read, b) an honour and c) a small roll or loaf. Assemble them in reverse order.

21a Rubbish point City dropped (4)
DIRT: a verb to point or indicate without the area code for the City of London.

22a Broadcast Scout Association’s leaders’ attempt (5)
ESSAY: this sounds like the leading letters of Scout Association.

23a Posh sort ultimately wanting posh food (4)
TOFU: a posh person without his/her ultimate letter followed by the abbreviation meaning posh.

26a Family bankrupt right before career in affluent area (11,4)
STOCKBROKER BELT: glue together a synonym of family or descent, an informal word meaning bankrupt, the abbreviation for right and a verb to career or move swiftly.

27a Mix up and supply same kit (7)
MISTAKE: an anagram (supply) of SAME KIT.

28a Perhaps Dalai Lama and I lay in sun (7)
TIBETAN: insert I and a verb to lay or wager into a verb to sun(bathe).

Down Clues

1d Church know lady regularly betrayed husband (7)
CUCKOLD: regular letters from the first three words of the clue.

2d Trickery as magician’s prop is hidden by cigarette papers as wife disappears (5,3,7)
SMOKE AND MIRRORS: an informal word for a cigarette and multiple (news)papers contain a magician’s prop without the genealogical abbreviation for wife.

3d One kiss and journalist is sacked (4)
AXED: another word for one, the letter used to mean a kiss and our usual abbreviated journalist.

4d Baffling — relating to sight returning — no adult should cover up middle of eye (7)
ELUSIVE: an adjective meaning relating to sight loses its abbreviation for adult. Now reverse that and use it to replace the central letter of eye.

5d Extremely positive news about sailor occasionally getting allowance (7)
PENSION: the outer letters of positive and two occurrences of the abbreviation for new containing occasional letters from ‘sailor’.

6d Rod Liddle’s latest written by computer (4)
MACE: the last letter of Liddle follows a model of computer. Surely Django is not implying that this journalist uses AI to write his articles (LOL)?

7d When one gets it, tell thingummybob to spend year travelling (9,6)
LIGHTBULB MOMENT: remove (spend) the abbreviation for year from TELL THINGUMMyBOB and make an anagram (travelling) of what remains.

8d Outstanding gathering student pub set up fast (7)
DURABLE: an adjective meaning outstanding (e.g. a debt) contains the reversal of our usual abbreviation for a student and a synonym of pub.

13d Contamination maybe in body of water if using lake for end of sewer (5)
FILTH: start with a body of water (a word used in several placenames in Scotland) and utilise the abbreviation for lake in place of the last letter of sewer. The surface seems to describe what water companies do rather a lot these days.

14d Handle kilo US drug cop put on the counter (5)
CRANK: reverse the abbreviation for kilo and an informal word for a US drug cop to get the sort of handle that was standard equipment on cars when I was very young.

17d Clear up problem for decent amount (4,3)
TIDY SUM: a verb to clear up and a synonym of problem.

18d Case for detective — hand out warrant (7)
DESERVE: the outer letters of detective and a verb to hand out or distribute.

19d Fern Britton’s closing shed — allotment, essentially provides rest (7)
BRACKET: start with a tall type of fern, shed the closing letter and append the essential letter of allotment.

20d Potter around at last with French Riviera city temperature dropping 3 degrees (7)
DOULTON: the last letter of around followed by a city on the French Riviera (best known to me as three-time winners of the Heineken Cup at rugby) with the abbreviation for temperature moved down three places.

24d Fine artist representing lady’s fingers (4)
OKRA: an informal word for fine and our usual abbreviated artist.

25d Grey crustacean — when head gets five times bigger (4)
DRAB: start with a crustacean and, using Roman numerals, multiply its first letter by V.

I really liked all four of the long clues with the excellent hidden phrase at 9a taking top spot. Which one(s) made the cut for you?

22 comments on “Toughie 3155
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  1. A very fine Toughie today that was very nicely constructed and contained plenty of invention. Most of the clues were commendably concise with not t too much verbosity. Plenty of choices for the honours board, but the remarkable reverse lurker at 9a gets the nod.

    Thanks to Django for a great puzzle, and to Gazza, especially for the cartoons.

  2. Fantastic fun! Thank you, Django. I loved ‘Rod Liddle’ in 6d, along with the topicality of AI-written text that Gazza mentions, and the novelty of ‘five times bigger’ in 25d; my favourite was the incredible lurker in 9a.

    I didn’t know the word in 15a, but it fell out of the clue perfectly. Thank you to Hyacinth Bucket, without whom I don’t think I’d’ve heard of the answer to 20d, and to Gazza for explaining the three I hadn’t parsed. Pleasingly few anagrams, which I always struggle with, so I managed to get plenty of answers on the first pass, and I found this more accessible than many crosswords.

  3. I totally echo our esteemed blogger’s opening remarks, no need for anything other than some lateral thinking to solve this gem.
    I really liked lots but will highlight 11,16&23a plus 2&6d with top spot shared by 9a and 7d.
    Great stuff.
    Thanks to Django and Gazza

  4. A Django is always a treat and this was no exception – 9a was especially delightful and had his prints all over it. And what an oddly lovely word 1d is! Many thanks to him, and Gazza, of course.

  5. :phew: That was as a tough a Django Toughie as I can remember. After a struggle, I still had 16a & 20d unparsed and so, many thanks to Gazza for the enlightenment and to Django for the challenge.

    I think I enjoyed it but I feel somewhat battered, and would be grateful if the setter could dial back the difficulty a notch or two in future.

  6. Reasonably straightforward and quite brilliant – the ingenuity and wit throughout this superb puzzle would I am sure put it in the top 5 of puzzles I’ve completed this year, if only I could remember the other 4 … let alone the other many hundreds! All absolutely fair and impeccably clued. Far too many superb clues, really, to pick any in particular, but the lurker in 9a has to be one of the Best Evah, while the other 3 long clues were close on its heels. Wonderful surfaces with many laugh out loud moments (eg 28a, 3d, 6d …) while 13d made me think of our very own South West Water, which treats the coasts of Devon & Cornwall as its own free sewer.

    3 / 5

    Chapeau, Django, chapeau. And many thanks also to Gazza.

  7. The comments above persuaded me to have a go at this delightful Toughie. As Gazza says in his blog, no obscure words, with the difficulty coming from some fairly tricky parsing. Plenty of ticks, but 9a the pick of the day – a brilliant backwards lurker.
    Great stuff. Thank you Django and Gazza. I love your cartoons!

  8. I steer well clear of most Toughies because they’re too difficult for me, and I know it, but I do make exceptions on Thursdays to check out Gazza’s cartoons!!
    Thanks Gazza and to all the Toughie setters! :smile:

  9. Tricky but brilliant – hugely enjoyable stuff. Lots of inventive clueing including the Mother of all rekruls. Thanks to Django and to Gazza for unraveling the parsing.

  10. I live on the west coast of Canada and can normally access my puzzles at 4.01 pm , I could not do so yesterday, did any other Canadian solvers have this problem?

  11. Wow! That was tricky but brilliant. I too needed the hints to parse 16a and 20d. Add me to the list of having favourite as the reverse lurker in 9a. Thanks to Django for the mental thrashing and Gazza.

  12. Terrific puzzle from Mr Gorman.

    9a A classic of the genre. Brilliant!

    Many thanks also to Gazza …for explaining the few(?) that I couldn’t parse.

  13. Good evening
    Ran out of steam halfway through. LHS done, but 95% of the RHS had me beat. Never mind; I don’t normally attempt Toughies, so I’m happy to get as far as I got. Special mention for the jaw-dropper that was 9a!
    Thank you Django and Gazza

  14. The magnificent 15 letter reverse lurker at 9a has to be the clue of the day.
    Quite a struggle in places and heaps of fun.
    Thanks Django and Gazza.

  15. What a fine toughie that was – I concur that the reverse hidden was a highlight but plenty ran it close (but no…) Thanks to Django and Gazza whose hints helped parse the final few

  16. Excellent small criticism! Living on the Riviera I am fairly sure that Toulon is too far west to be included in my area.minor quibble.

    1. Its Wikipedia page says “Toulon is a city on the French Riviera and a large port on the Mediterranean coast, with a major naval base.”

      I don’t think Dave Gorman would edit a Wikipedia page just to insert a ‘fact’ so he could use it in a crossword …

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