Toughie No 3185 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View comments 

Toughie No 3185

Toughie No 3185 by Serpent

Hints and tips by StephenL

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Hello everyone from a very wet South Devon coast

Serpent, one of my favourite setters, gets the ball rolling this week with a puzzle that certainly didn’t disappoint.  I managed to get a foothold in the south and worked my way steadily upwards. There’s usually something extra going on in the grid with this setter too but nothing immediately obvious to me.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Which people love quiet sound associated with motion? (6)
WHOOSH: A way of asking “which people” plus the letter indicating love or zero plus a two-letter word demanding silence.

5a Unexpected attempt that captures particular moment in time (8)
SNAPSHOT: An adjective indicating a decision or action is taken suddenly plus an informal word for an attempt or a go.

9a Children behind vital part impair rapid progress (5,5)
QUICK MARCH: A word that could mean the innermost or vital part (it’s in the BRB!) plus a synonym of impair or spoil plus the abbreviation for CHildren.

10a A unit this authentic could be seen as “authentic” (4)
ECHT: Anagram of the A UNIT plus the solution (this) with authentic as the indicator?

11a In principle, people could live here (8)
TENEMENT: An insertion of some adult males into a principle or doctrine for an extended definition,

12a Comeback ends in bitter strife and grounds for legal action (6)
RETORT: Put together the final letters of bitteR and strifE and a wrongful act leading to legal liability.

13a Style originally followed by jazz aficionado? (4)
SCAT: The initial letter of Style plus an informal word for a jazz aficionado, giving a nice &lit

15a Champion tennis player embraces staunch supporter (8)
HENCHMAN: The abbreviation for CHampion is “embraced” by a British tennis player.

18a Soundly beat second-rate English political party (8)
BELABOUR: A charade of the letter indicating second rate, the abbreviation for English and a political party led by Keir Starmer.

19a Uncertainty about cases is widespread (4)
RIFE: The usual two-letter preposition meaning on or about “cases” or goes around a two-letter conjunction indicating uncertainty.

21a Awkward university dons hanker after introduction to girls (6)
GAUCHE: Start with the “introduction” to Girls. Then insert (dons) the abbreviation for University into a word meaning hanker or yearn. Very smart.

23a What’s drunk in drunken sprees like this? (8)
ESPRESSO: Anagram (drunken) of SPREES plus a two-letter adverb that could mean “like this”

25a Child of couple getting married first (4)
MITE: An informal word for a couple or two people in a relationship has the abbreviation for Married moved from the back of the word to the front.

26a Inept force surprisingly achieves this? (10)
PERFECTION: Anagram (surprisingly) of the preceding two words

27a Corrupt person residing inside primarily? (8)
PRISONER: Anagram (corrupt) of PERSON into which is inserted the initial letters of Residing Inside for an extended definition.

28a Drawing a veil over heavy defeat (6)
HIDING: Double definition, one a verb, the other a noun.


2d Store elements of water and milk (5)
HOUSE: The chemical symbols of the two elements of water and a synonym of milk as a verb. Excellent

3d Pit workers making use of torches traditionally (9)
ORCHESTRA: Hidden in the clue. I love this track and the “pit workers” add a little magic

4d Foil wrapper removed from sparkling wine (6)
HAMPER: Remove the outer letters from an informal word for a French sparkling wine.

5d She may help if you couldn’t stand being hurt (9-6)
STRETCHER BEARER: This is obviously a cryptic definition based on someone unable to stand upright after being hurt but I’m not sure if there’s anything more going on in the wordplay.

6d Commercial books including present and sticker? (8)
ADHERENT: The usual two-letter abbreviated commercial or ADvertisement plus some abbreviated biblical books into which is inserted a word that could mean present in the sense of “in this place”.

7d What about charging firm for newspaper? (5)
SHEET: An exclamation meaning “what” or pardon reversed (about ) and inserted into a synonym of firm as an adjective. Succinct and clever.

8d Partner people enjoying the good life? (5,4)
OTHER HALF: Cryptic/double definition based on the saying “How the solution lives” to describe the lives usually of the rich or those far removed from ourselves.

14d Gallant resistance holding up a vehicle somehow (9)
CHEVALIER: The single-letter abbreviation for Resistance holds up or supports in a down clue an anagram of A VEHICLE.

16d Gathered I’m surprised and embarrassed about underwear (9)
HARVESTED: A two-letter exclamation used to express surprise plus the colour indicating embarrassment into which is inserted an item of underwear usually worn in the winter and famously by….

17d Clue for “detective” is not elaborate (8)
HOMESPUN: The detective here is a fictional character created by Arthur Conan Doyle. If we split the solution 5,3 we can see the wordplay. Brilliant.

20d Address of school receiving principal’s first letter (6)
SPEECH: The abbreviation for SCH placed around how we write the initial letter of Principle.

22d What requires men to play part in Witches’ Sabbath? (5)
CHESS: Our second hidden clue.

24d Demonstrated method to open tin (5)
SHOWN: A word meaning “by what means” opens or is inserted into the chemical symbol of tin.

Excellent throughout, almost 26a, many thanks Serpent. I’ve chosen to highlight 21,25&27a plus 2,7 and my favourite 17d. Which ones shone brightest for you?




22 comments on “Toughie No 3185
Leave your own comment 

  1. A pleasantly enjoyable Toughie offering from Serpent. A good complement to Mr Plumb’s back pager. 2*/3.5*

    Candidates for favourite – 12a, 21a, 2d, and 24d – and the winner is 12a.

    Thanks to Serpent and StephenL.

  2. A very enjoyable opener for what promises to be an excellent Toughie week – thanks to Serpent and SL.
    The brightest clues for me were the clever compound anagram at 10a, 17d and 22d with my favourite being 2d.
    I couldn’t spot anything extra though at one stage I wondered if the bottom line of the grid was a hint as to what to look for. Could 5d be a cryptic description of someone serving a stretch? – probably not!

    1. I think that would be a bit of a “stretch” Gazza!!
      I remarked to someone else of this parish on Sunday that this looks like a stellar week in Toughie land.

  3. Lots to look forward to this week and this was a fine start – altho a slow start for me. Couldn’t make headway at the top so had to go round. Some clever little clues: 25a, 7d and 24d, but my winner today is my last one in – 1a.
    Thanks to Serpent and Stephen.

  4. A disappointing DNF. Never heard of 10a & didn’t twig the wordplay. It was my last one so bunged in echo then read the hint to resolve. Otherwise reasonably straightforward albeit tougher than a ** for me & didn’t enjoy to quite the same extent as our reviewer clearly did. No idea why it’s she rather than he at 5d & needed the explanation to parse my 7d bung in. 2&17d my top two & pleased to parse them both as neither immediately obvious to me.
    Thanks to Serpent & to Stephen – had to pause the HFB clip at 2m10s to check the first violinist wasn’t Simon Mayo.

    1. I too noted the “she” in 5D and am embarrassed to say it stood in the way of my seeing the answer for a while – a bit of unconscious bias there I fear…

  5. Well I said last week I was due my comeuppance and sure enough I got what I am sure I deserved today.
    I found this a slow solve which with some effort I worked my way through – but not all the way through and I was a DNF needing SL’s help with 7D and 10A.
    Though I got the answer I was also flummoxed by the curious case of the missing in L in 17 down. and yet so obvious when the penny dropped.
    enough hair shirt, there was plenty to like here once I got it, with 3,4,5 and 6D all pleasing me and 26A is a cracking clue and my standout winner.

  6. An enjoyable, generally light and straightforward solve, other than for being totally foxed by 25a. Only convinced myself of the answer to 13a when recalling the great tongue-twisting track “Scatman” by Scatman John. COTD for me was the wonderful 17d.

    Many thanks to Serpent and Stephen

  7. A veritable romp. Some very fair definitions, which helped enormously. I wasn’t initially sure whether to love or hate 17d but I’ve taken heed of the above comments and decided to love it! Thanks to Serpent, and SL, of course.

  8. Great fun and a worthy start to the Toughie week. I still don’t understand 10a but otherwise all was good. I particularly enjoyed was the clever 17d.

    Thanks Serpent and SL.

    1. 10a is a compound anagram. A UNIT plus ‘this (word meaning) authentic’ (i.e. the answer to the clue) make an anagram of (could be seen as) AUTHENTIC. Very clever!

    2. In 10a the solution (this) is part of the anagram fodder along with A UNIT to make up the definition….Gazza has just beaten me to it!

  9. This was harder than I was expecting, I should have started when my brain was fresh. 2d gets my vote.

    Thanks to SL and Serpent.

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.