Toughie 3158 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3158

Toughie No 3158 by Stick Insect

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Toughie Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

A ‘start of the week’ Toughie from Stick Insect

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1a    Smack joint next to Kent town (7,8)
KNUCKLE SANDWICH An informal term for a blow from the fist (smack) – one of several joints found on your fingers and one of the Cinque Ports (Kent town)

9a    Individuals invading country forming another (9)
INDONESIA Individuals (4) ‘invading’ a South Asian country

10a    Musical performance around November 5th in calendar? Beats me (5)
DUNNO A musical performance by two people goes around the letter represented by November in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet and the fifth letter in caleNdar

11a    Caught someone gathering flock to fix back of wool jumper (7)
HURDLER A homophone (caught) of someone gathering a flock into which is inserted (to fix) the ‘back’ of wooL

12a    Doctor Who hands over Rose finally — big mistake (6)
HOWLER An anagram (doctor) of WHO, the abbreviations for each hand go ‘over’ the final letter of rosE

15a    Managed to interrupt Tory leader once making aggressive speech (8)
HARANGUE A synonym for managed ‘interrupts’ the surname of the leader of the Conservative Party from 1997 to 2001

16a    New Zealander Kelvin takes wicket in two (4)
KIWI The symbol for the SI Unit of Thermodynamic Temperature (Kelvin) and the abbreviation for wicket inserted in the Roman numeral for two

19a    Discovered nova, universal medium for source of life (4)
OVUM The inside (dis covered) letters of nOVa, followed by the abbreviations for Universal and Medium

20a    Apt to change look when removing current hat (8)
VOLATILE An interjection meaning behold (look) without the symbol for electrical current followed by the slang word for a hat

23a    Stick poster in this place (6)
ADHERE Every crossword needs an ‘old friend of the crossword solver’ A poster and an adverb meaning in this place

24a    Rustic in Nice left out (7)
PEASANT Misleading capitals time – a synonym for nice without the abbreviation for Left

26a    Share American plant (5)
LOTUS A share and an abbreviation for American

28a    Security guard swore at cinema chain in audition (9)
CUSTODIAN Homophones (in audition) of a slang word meaning swore and the name of a cinema chain

29a    Threesome in rude relations tangle messily rejecting ordered duos (7,8)
ETERNAL TRIANGLE An anagram (messily) of RudE RELATIONs TANGLE without (rejecting) DUOS (ordered telling you that they aren’t in that order!)


1d    Dark gangster comes after king for award (10)
KNIGHTHOOD A period of darkness and a slang word for a violent criminal (gangster) come after the chess abbreviation for King

2d    Interred, urned perhaps? (11)
UNDERGROUND An anagram of URNED followed by an anagram indicator (perhaps)

3d    Helpful Heather is fire starter (8)
KINDLING A synonym for helpful and one of several names of the heather plant

4d    Cover up aim to embrace quiet libertine lacking energy (8)
ENSHROUD An aim into which is inserted (to embrace) an instruction to be quiet and a libertine without (lacking) the abbreviation for Energy

5d    American opportunely heads for high yields, displaying coolness (6)
APATHY The abbreviation for American, a synonym for opportunely and the ‘heads’ to High and Yields

6d    Cheat and solve this clue, perhaps (2,4)
DO DOWN Cheat or what you do to solve this clue and others in this half of the crossword

7d    Oddly missing sign on hotel (3)
INN The even (oddly missing) letters of sIgN oN

8d    Trap agreed following call (4)
HOOK An informal adjective meaning agreed goes after (following) a call to incite attention

13d    The setter’s popular, cheering about mobster’s icing (11)
ELIMINATING A way our setter might say he was popular inserted into a synonym for cheering. ‘Icing’ being an American word (as used by a mobster) for the solution

14d    Dabbler — translated title accepted by Italian author (10)
DILETTANTE An anagram (translated) of TITLE ‘accepted’ by an Italian author

17d    Perhaps Berlin fertiliser manufacturer is short of time (8)
COMPOSER Not the city but an American songwriter – something used to make fertiliser without (is short of) the abbreviation for Time

18d    Soldier with no idea, losing heart in irrational fear (8)
PARANOIA A soldier, NO (from the clue) and the outside (losing heart) letters of IdeA

21d    Right time, when leaderless, for moderation (6)
REASON The abbreviation for Right and a natural division of the year (time) without its first letter

22d    Draft review of shambolic nephew’s housing (6)
PENCIL Hidden (housing) in reverse (review) in shamboLIC NEPhew

25d    Breathed hard in ear: raunchy or sad? (4)
BLUE A homophone (in ear) of a simple way of saying breathed hard

27d    Digit: it’s one occasionally (3)
TOE The occasional letters of iTs OnE

23 comments on “Toughie 3158

  1. Very enjoyable.
    Light and breezy with my only (very slight) niggle being 3d where surely it’s time for Heather to be consigned to Room 101.
    As per with this setter I liked lots including the lol 1a plus the excellent 20a along with 2d. Great stuff
    Many thanks to Stick Insect and Sue for the review.

  2. Lovely puzzle, an ideal early-week Toughie or late-week backpager. Had a ? next to 10a (is the performance not a duet, and the performers the duo?), and I was unconvinced by 6d, which I thought weak and “let the side down” when it came to the rest of the puzzle. Hon Mentions went to 12a, 28a, 2d, 13d & 17d.

    Thank you to Stick Insect and of course to CS

    1. I thought that too re 10a – of course muggins here thinking surely 5th Nov is an M (we had the 6th the other day for the bonfire answer) but I twigged it eventually

  3. I thought today’s back-pager a gem but reckon this one even better. Needless to say found it a deal trickier than either you or Stephen & a good step up from yesterday’s Dada doddle. Last in was 13d which proved a real head scratch until the PDM re the context of the definition. Loved the top & bottom long ‘uns but top 3 for me were 20a, 2d & 28a with a host of ticks elsewhere.
    Many thanks to Stick Insect & to CS.
    Ps sun now shining but every time I’m tempted to go out for a walk it promptly starts to hose it down.

  4. Good fun and fairly straightforward for a Toughie with 17d my COTD ahead of 20a and the clever 2d.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

  5. This proved to be second delightful Toughie of the week so far. Although I found the SE corner very much harder than the other threequarters, it was still a joy to solve.

    I had a lot of ticks and my podium comprises 1a, 28a & 2d.

    Many thanks to Stick Insect and to CS.

  6. A pleasant puzzle – thanks to SI and CS,
    My co-favourites (I think I’m safe with that because Kath doesn’t often venture into Toughieland) are 28a, 2d and 18d.

  7. All went swimmingly until I met a brick wall at 13d where the penny refused to drop despite the fact that the ‘icing’ turns up quite regularly. I guess that one deserves a podium place along with my top three of 12,20&28a.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and to CS for the review.

  8. SE last to fall with the rest pretty straightforward good fun though. Favourite was 2d, it’s not all that long ago I wouldn’t have able to solve it so thank you blogging team. Thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

  9. Well, Toughieland makes a pleasant change. I’m in my third week, having promoted myself from the backpage. The paucity of comments against Toughies may indicate that few are prepared to have a go. Time to dip your toe in the water ! Nice puzzle **/****

  10. Thought I was going to sail through this until I got totally stuck on 20A. I’ve never heard that term for ‘hat’ before. Every day is a school day!

  11. Rarely do I leave the backpager to struggle here – but didn’t I choose the right day today! I dunn it all!

    Thanks to the compiler and team.

  12. Absolutely no doubt as to what clue we would pick for favourite.
    Good fun all the way through.
    Thanks Stick Insect and CS.

  13. Another very enjoyable, doable Toughie, slightly more of a challenge than yesterday. If this week continues as it’s started, then Friday might be a rude awakening for us all, especially if it’s the dreaded you know who.
    My ticks went to 11 and 12A and 21 and 25D with a tie for favourite being 10A and 28A.
    Many thanks to CS and Stick Insect.

  14. Well, i did get there …. eventually.

    Shouldn’t there be a mention of the French Connection in 20a?

  15. What a delightful Toughie! I found it loads of fun and thoroughly enjoyable.
    My fave was 17d, followed by 10a, 12a, 24a… There could be many others…
    I thought the lower portion of the puzzle was a little tricker than the top.
    Much appreciation to Stick Insect for brightening the day and to Crypticsue for the excellent review and its lovely illustrations, especially the kiwi!

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