Toughie 3186 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3186

Toughie No 3186 by Robyn

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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

A very enjoyable, just right for a Wednesday,  Toughie – it will be interesting to see whether this ‘Goldilocks’ week continues tomorrow and Friday

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1a    Little old lady with wit and energy shows poor outcome for Labour (7,4)
MINIMUM WAGE A synonym for small (little), an informal way of referring to your mother (old lady), an amusing person (wit) and the abbreviation for Energy. As so often happens, the capital L in Labour is there to mislead

7a    Decline in insects in flowering plant (7)
BUGLOSS Split 3,4, this flowering plant could describe a decline in insects

8a    Very busy Cockney without work is in the wrong place (7)
ECTOPIC The way a Cockney or anyone who doesn’t sound their Hs would say very busy goes outside (without) an abbreviated work

10a    Pleasant estate’s fencing stakes (5)
ANTES Some fixed betting stakes are ‘fenced’ in the first two words of the clue

11a    Countenance giving away nothing in cafe managed by Rod (5,4)
POKER FACE An anagram (managed) of CAFÉ goes after (by) a rod

12a    Eccentric champion in chess club (7)
DINGBAT The forename of the reigning World Chess Champion and a type of club

14a    Rogue tears packaging of Scrabble tiles (7)
TESSERA An anagram (rogue) of TEARS and SE (the outside letters (packaging) of ScrabblE)

15a    Blast setter possibly showing contrition (7)
HANGDOG An interjection of annoyance (blast) and the type of animal of which a setter is, possibly, an example

18a    Small finches one’s placed among rooks (7)
SISKINS IS (one’s) placed ‘among’ part of an informal verb meaning swindles (rooks)

20a    I repeatedly act in plays — maybe I have a cunning plan (9)
TACTICIAN An anagram (plays) of I (from the clue) ACT ACT (repeatedly) and IN

21a    Bar with case of alcohol in stock (5)
BANAL Bar in the sense of exclude or prohibit and the ‘case’ of AlcohoL

22a    Welcomed entertaining compiler given a raise (7)
HOISTED A synonym for welcomed ‘entertaining’ how our compiler might refer to himself

23a    Completely outstanding and within the law (7)
ALLOWED Comprising everything (completely) and indebted (outstanding)

24a    Exposed social danger mishandled by politicians (6,5)
GARDEN PARTY An anagram (mishandled) of DANGER and a political group


1d    Heavyweight turned up no precious stone (7)
MEGATON A reversal (turned up) of a way of saying that something is no precious stone (3,1,3)

2d    Fine header from Salah after running up for corners (5)
NOOKS An informal way of saying fine and the ‘header’ from Salah go after a reversal (up) of a simple way of saying that something is working or running

3d    Place for rocking ship at sea to pass through yearly test (4,3)
MOSH PIT A place for dancing energetically to loud rock music – an anagram (at sea) of SHIP inserted into the abbreviation for the annual test of a vehicle’s roadworthiness

4d    Turkey, say, visited by English kings or colony dweller (7)
MEERKAT Turkey here is an example of something edible into which is inserted (visited by) the abbreviation for English and the Latin and Chess abbreviations for king

5d    Daisy has blown kiss for stars (9)
ASTERISKS A flower followed by an anagram (blown) of KISS

6d    Maybe retired head gathers I make amends (7)
EXPIATE The usual two-letter former (retired) and an old or humorous name for a head into which is inserted (gathers) I (from the clue)

7d    Groups including Queen devise iconic track (6,5)
BRANDS HATCH Some groups ‘including’ the Latin abbreviation for queen and a verb meaning to devise

9d    Escorts for one American boy, eating main up or starter (6,5)
CAESAR SALAD Vehicles of which Escorts may be an example, eating or taking in a reversal (up) of a large body of water (main) followed by the abbreviation for American and a boy

13d    A little flat beer tucked into by Fleet Street bigwigs (9)
BEDSITTER A type of beer into which is inserted (tucked into) some abbreviated Fleet Street ‘bigwigs’

16d    After drink, popular girl’s beginning hanky-panky (7)
NECKING A slang verb meaning to drink, the usual two-letter popular and the ‘beginning’ of Girl

17d    Good cryptic clue for hot plate (7)
GRIDDLE The abbreviation for Good and a cryptic clue

18d    Means of getting brown paper left on unit (7)
SUNLAMP A red-top newspaper, the abbreviation for Lamp and the short form of the SI Unit of Electrical Current

19d    Where Scandinavians are not right? Not at all (2,2,3)
IN NO WAY Where certain Scandinavians live (2,6)without the R (not right)

21d    Cleverer article put down — it helps farmer make a bundle (5)
BALER Move the indefinite article at the start of a synonym for cleverer down the word

19 comments on “Toughie 3186
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  1. I found this much more tricky than recent Robyn Toughies, but still very enjoyable.

    I was a bit mystified by 3d despite having cottoned on quite quickly that we were looking for an anagram of “ship” inside MOT. Given the checking letters, this meant the answer could only be “mish pot” or “mosh pit”, neither of which seemed at all probable …
    … until I looked in the BRB.

    With lots of ticks to choose from, my podium selection was 1a, 12a & 24a.

    Many thanks to Robyn and to CS.

  2. Really enjoyable – thanks to Robyn and CS.
    I had to check that the unlikely sounding chess champion actually exists.
    I liked 1a, 8a, 2d and 4d with my favourite being 7d.

    NB The main bit appears to have got lost from the 9d hint.

  3. Oof, well that was tough for a bear of little brain. I guess the day would have a lot more daylight left if I had been a bit less stubborn.
    Still the days will be getting longer soon.
    Favourites were 24a, 18a (because I like them), 11a, and best for me was 7d when I finally got it.
    Thanks to CS and the setter.

  4. The chess player in 12a was also new to us but we guessed the answer from definition and checkers.
    A most enjoyable solve as ever from this setter.
    Thanks Robyn and CS.

  5. Thoroughly enjoyable and reasonably friendly for a midweek Toughie. A couple of new words to instantly forget but all attainable through the excellent wordplay. 7d came out on top of my pile.

    My thanks to Robyn and Sue.

  6. Great puzzle! Nothing 21a about it.
    For me a carbon copy of yesterday’s in terms of enjoyment, difficulty and method of solving. Again I got a foothold in the south and worked steadily upwards and had a full grid in reasonable time.
    As ever with this excellent setter I liked lots including 8,11&24a plus 4,7&13d.
    Many thanks to Robyn and Sue.

  7. Another cracker! I do find Robyn difficult – I think it’s the way [s]he disguises definitions like “exposed social” – and the SW corner proved particularly intractable, but got there in the end with plenty to enjoy, even tho my knowledge of chess masters let me down in 12a. Clue of the day is the magnificent anagram at 20a.
    Thanks to Robyn and Sue.

  8. A few toughie level parsing problems but that is to be expected from Robyn
    I did like the base check for Daisy but 24a takes the biscuit

    Thanks to Sue for the hints and Robyn for the puzzle

  9. Terrific puzzle & into an early lead for me as best of the week thus far. Must just have been bang on wavelength for a change as I breezed through it ( far easier than yesterday for sure) & felt sure it’d get a * rating from our reviewer. 7a was last in & the only unfamiliarity. I had come across the chess player recently but that may have been in the Graun. Ticks in abundance – 1,8,11,15&24a plus 4,7,13,16&19d to highlight 5 of each. Fav was 19d – I’m about to watch the latest instalment of Slow Horses. Gary Oldman has great fun with the lead part of Jackson Lamb & I’m reminded of one of his many insults to his crew at Slough House “Bringing you lot up to speed is like trying to explain Norway to a dog”
    Thanks to Robyn & to Sue

  10. I’m not sure whether this has already been remarked upon but I think that the anagram for 20a should be I ACT ACT ON.
    ACT ON ACT ON has 10 letters!

    1. That’s what comes of solving the crossword and making parsing notes in a hospital waiting room. I’ve amended the hint

  11. Late one tonight having been singing at a Christmas concert. Love Robyn’s puzzles! 8 across my favourite. Can anyone please explain Fleet Street bigwigs? Can’t understand it despite Sue’s hint.

  12. Tackled as a morning wake-up exercise, and while not too challenging, also felt it was pretty average – maybe the consequence of only just being out of bed. The usual mix of good surfaces and concealed definitions, but some odd synonyms and obscurities to take the edge off. A 2.5* / 2.5* sort of Toughie I felt.

    Many thanks to Robyn and CS

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