Toughie 3171 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3171

Toughie No 3171 by Django
Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Very enjoyable puzzle with a good mixture of clues, including a couple that required a bit of head-scratching to parse. Thanks to Django.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you liked about the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a Re-examine large drink bill (6-5)
DOUBLE-CHECK: a large drink (of spirits usually) and a word for a restaurant bill.

10a Leaves out part of testimony when sent back (5)
OMITS: hidden in reverse,

11a Subordinate to service drawers? (9)
UNDERWEAR: a preposition meaning ‘subordinate to’ and a synonym of service or usage (related to tyres, for example).

12a Ultimately Robbie Coltrane directed play (9)
TOLERANCE: an anagram (directed) of the ultimate letter of RobbiE and COLTRANE.

13a Labour tax absent banker? (5)
INDUS: a synonym for labour without a verb to tax.

14a DNA profiling with saliva leaves suspect conclusively shocked (6)
AGHAST: the concluding letters of six words in the clue.

16a Rice substitute on occasion? (8)
CONFETTI: cryptic definition of something thrown on a happy occasion.

18a Bitterness as line in part of divorce settlement is replaced with ruler (8)
ACRIMONY: what’s paid by one of the parties after a divorce has its abbreviation for line replaced by the abbreviation for our current head of state.

20a Jumped from small car accident (6)
SPRANG: the clothing abbreviation for small and an informal word for a (normally minor) car accident.

23a Old man’s taking on fear (5)
DREAD: an affectionate word for one’s old man contains a preposition meaning on or concerning.

24a Drug addict celebs getting tags on site? (9)
USERNAMES: stick together words for a drug addict and celebs.

26a Sail‘s made out of napkins somehow with tips from Blue Peter (9)
SPINNAKER: an anagram (somehow) of NAPKINS followed by the final letters of Blue Peter.

27a Army departs after triumph (5)
CROWD: the abbreviation for departs follows a verb to triumph or boast.

28a Bring up idea timeshare arrangement will make this digression (11)
PARENTHESIS: join together a verb to bring up (children) and an idea or theory then share the abbreviation for time at the junction of the two. Timeshare arrangement – brilliant.

Down Clues

2d Men lie top to tail in small room (5)
ORIEL: the abbreviation for military men and LIE with its first letter moved to the end.

3d Restaurants in book this writer makes up (7)
BISTROS: splice together the abbreviation for book, the subjective pronoun for ‘this writer’ and the reversal of a synonym for makes or types.

4d First of all everybody quite understands if niece eats like a horse (6)
EQUINE: the first letters of six words in the clue.

5d Insectivore not quite last to trap fly close to earth (5-3)
HEDGE-HOP: a prickly insectivore without its last letter and the last letter of trap.

6d Cleaner taking a road in France’s capital (7)
CARDIFF: a cleaner once named Jif in the UK contains (taking … in) A and the abbreviation for road. Finish with the IVR code for France.

7d Smuggler caught working by detectives breaking into East German car (13)
CONTRABANDIST: start with the cricket abbreviation for caught and an adverb meaning working. Now insert the abbreviation for senior detectives into the name of a car once made in East Germany (branded ‘the worst car ever made’ but now treated as a cult classic by some).

8d Essentially David James, say, lets in goal — causing feud (8)
VENDETTA: the central letter of David and the forename of Ms. James the old US singer contain a synonym of goal.

9d Ignoring sweeper, a member of Arsenal’s first XI blocks Gabriel’s header (8,5)
BRUSHING ASIDE: start with a sweeping implement and add a phrase (2,1,4) meaning ‘in Arsenal’s first XI’ (where Arsenal’s first is the letter A) containing the leading letter of Gabriel.

15d Daring to use force to dislodge zip that’s completely closed (8)
HERMETIC: start with an adjective meaning daring or gallant and replace the letter resembling zip or nothing with the informal name for the police force in London.

17d International organisation raising moose youngster to be free (8)
UNBUCKLE: the usual abbreviated international organisation followed by the reversal of another word for moose and a young animal.

19d Singer‘s party food’s going round (7)
MADONNA: a festive party surrounded by some Biblical food.

21d Bowl with a revolutionary style (7)
PANACHE: assemble a bowl or pot, A and a South American revolutionary.

22d Diligent investigator seeing Trotters acquiring Reliant Regal initially (6)
FERRET: what trotters are in a butcher’s shop containing the initial letters of the vehicle.

25d People wander, heading north over island (5)
MAORI: reverse a verb to wander and append an abbreviation for island. I bet that this will be the 2Ks favourite.

My ticks today went to 28a, 5d and 9d. Which one(s) tickled your fancy?


21 comments on “Toughie 3171
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  1. As usual for Django this was a most enjoyable crossword. I liked the same clues as Gazza but would add 22d to the list. Unusually for Django, this wasn’t really a Toughie – his Indy cryptic took me longer to solve than this one

    Thanks to Django and Gazza

  2. Didn’t twig the timeshare arrangement bit in the parsing of 28a unfortunately & agree it’s very clever. Really enjoyed the puzzle – plenty tough enough for the likes of me & wouldn’t disagree with our reviewer’s podium pics though you could easily make a case for quite a few more.
    Thanks to Django & Gazza – great pic for 7d. Etta James version of IRGB has never been bettered in my view but Beth Hart with Joe Bonamassa sure runs it close

  3. I was utterly gobsmacked to see that CS considered “this was not really a Toughie”. Well, it’s horses for courses, and for me this was tough, tough, tough – far more difficult than this setter’s Indy back-pager today.

    I enjoyed parts of it but overall it was too much of a battle to say it was fun.

    A thumbs down for the American bill in 1a and a big thumbs up for 9d.

    Thanks to Django and to Gazza.

    1. I was surprised (and horrified) to see that Chambers makes no reference to this ghastly word for a food bill being American. Standards are clearly slipping on this side of the pond.

  4. I also found this very difficult and needed the hint to parse 28a, obvious when it’s pointed out. Favourite was 18a. Thanks to Django and Gazza.

  5. 28a was way out in front as my favourite from this most entertaining puzzle. I found it a proper Toughie, but fairly clued.

    Thanks Django for the challenge, and to CS.

  6. even by toughie standards this was too difficult to be enjoyable . stumped at every turn, i resorted to the hints which i rarely do and i feel like a failure

  7. Lovely stuff – Trabbie and Reliant in a single puzzle! I thought 28a was very clever [timeshare] and 6d deserves a gong for the use of a domestic cleaning product- whatever next Django?
    Thanks to him and to Gazza for the blog.

  8. A very enjoyable Toughie, and although I finished there were a couple I couldn’t parse.I hadn’t thought of a cleaning product rather than a person in 6D. I liked 9D but my podium has to be the very clever 28A.
    Many thanks to Django for the workout and Gazza for the explanations and humour.

  9. Loved it!
    Undoubtedly the clue of the day, if not the week the hilarious 22d, genius. Also liked 28a, which I’m glad I didn’t have to parse, plus 5 and the superb 9d.
    If I have a tiny quibble, two acrostics in one puzzle is one too many.
    Many thanks to Django and Gazza for the top-notch entertainment.

  10. We struggled with 5d as we thought the insectivore was going to be the definition. Lots of chuckles throughout the solve and quite challenging for us.
    Thanks Django and Gazza.

  11. That was tough, but very, very enjoyable. Some truly brilliant clues and plenty of originality.
    12a, 16a, 18a, 26a, 28a, 2d, 5d, 7d, 9d, 15d, 17d, 21d and 22d get my ticks, but I could have ticked them all.
    Take a bow, Mr Gorman and please keep them coming.
    Many thanks to Gazza for explaining some of the parsing – rather you than me!

  12. Thanks Gazza and thanks all.

    That some are saying they found this easier than the Indy today… while others are saying the reverse just goes to show there is no definitive measure of toughness. It is always horses for courses and whatever our various editors might think, your mileage may vary.


    1. It’s only taken me a fortnight (on and off) but I’m glad I didn’t give up. A quality puzzle, thanks to all.

  13. Surprisingly few comments — did the internet go down for everybody else as well? I was finishing this just at the 11-year-old’s bedtime, so talked them through 7d and we worked out together what the East German car must be from the letters left over from the other parts. I tried to search the web to confirm, only to discover that we couldn’t.

    It was still down at my bedtime, but is back this morning. At least I got some Christmas presents wrapped yesterday evening.

    Thank you to Django for the fun. There were so many clues I marked as potential favourites. I think I’m going to go for the moose youngster in 17d. And thank you also for the show in Halifax last week, particularly the section on crosswords. Finally, thank you to Gazza for explaining the ones that I didn’t understand properly.

    1. Sadly the number of comments on this Toughie is about par for the course. Lots of people here don’t know what they’re missing by avoiding the Toughies.
      Your 11-year-old is obviously going to be a blogger in the future!

      1. Is it not likely that many potential toughie solvers happen to pick an Elgar/Osmosis Friday conundrum to try, rather than the more “friendly” puzzles earlier in the week? As a regular solver of both back pagers and toughies I can understand how this could frighten many away.
        (NB Nothing wrong with difficult Friday toughies, each to his own)

  14. Disappointed that I can’t make head nor tail of any of it, but I will endeavour to try and learn how Django works his words into clues.

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