Toughie No 3193 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 3193

Toughie No 3193

Hints and tips by Stephen L.

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Good afternoon everyone from a wet and windy South Devon coast

Donnybrook opens the innings for 2024 with a clever and amusing puzzle that I enjoyed solving.
Alas the blog convention dictates that Telegraph setters don’t blog or comment on other Telegraph setter’s work so this will be my final blog. I hope to blog the odd NTSPP puzzle (or even RC) though so won’t be entirely absent. Blog stats show I’ve done 144. Enjoyed the lot

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Everyone consuming salmon gets the sauce (7)
ALCOHOL: A synonym of everyone placed around (consuming) a type of salmon also known as “silver” salmon.

5a Insect in game featuring long hops? (7)

CRICKET: Double/cryptic definition, this jumping insect is also the name of a game featuring a type of ball or delivery known as a long hop

9a Is this how envelopes are sealed? Indeed! (2,3)
BY GUM: Literally how envelopes are sealed is also a chiefly northern exclamation used for emphasis (lol)

10a Sausage and tea to keep a pilot refreshed (9)
CHIPOLATA: The usual three-letter informal tea goes around (to keep) an anagram (refreshed) of A PILOT.

11a Pull on weed relentlessly shackles donkey (5-5)
CHAIN SMOKE: The weed here is tobacco. If we split the solution 6,4 we have a phrase meaning shackles or binds an informal donkey.

12a What sewer may carry in central areas pretty fruity? (4)
ETUI: The sewer here is not a drainage system but someone armed with a needle and thread. The central letters of prETty and frUIty.

14a Score with awkward truths in spirited exchange (3-3-6)
CUT AND THRUST: Put together synonyms of score or scratch and with, then add an anagram of TRUTHS.

18a To take a course like this is humiliating (3,6,3)
EAT HUMBLE PIE: Cryptic definition, the course being a type of pastry filled with inferior quality meat giving rise to an expression meaning to face humiliation.

21a Coming round motorway, knock Pat down (4)
TAMP: An insertion of the abbreviation for Motorway into a reversal of a synonym of knock gently. Ignore the false capitalisation. Very smart.

22a Gardeners finally seize what cuts British plant? (10)
STAKEKNIFE: The plant here is a spy, one who infiltrated The IRA. Put together the final letter of gardenerS, a synonym of seize and an implement used for cutting.

25a Jail Democrat taking flat in American city (9)
CLEVELAND: Insert a synonym of flat in the sense of smooth into an informal word for a jail. Finish with the single-letter abbreviation for Democrat.

26a Is it stout in drinks bought for the group? (5)
ROUND: Cryptic/double definition the stout referring to the shape of someone rather than the drink.

27a Runner mostly in Devon with attractive top (7)
EXECUTE: A Devon “runner” or “flower” (part of which is in Somerset hence “mostly”) plus a synonym of attractive or adorable. Top here is a verb.

28a Unsurpassed as chicken served in velouté sauce? (7)
SUPREME: Double definition.

Here’s the insurpassed Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser of Blue Oyster Cult, who not only wrote this gem but is singing it AND playing lead guitar on this live version.


1d American on black horse’s caught entering office (6)
ABBACY: Single-letter abbreviations for American and Black plus one for Caught inserted into a type of horse.

2d May become cold? Turning warmer perhaps! (6)
COGNAC: Put together a synonym of may, one of become and the abbreviation for Cold and reverse (turning) the result. The warmer here is a noun.

3d Wee man, no chum, playful Enterprise helmsman sent up (10)
HOMUNCULUS: Anagram (playful) of NO CHUM plus a reversal of a Star Trek “helmsman”

4d One being a substitute in practice? (5)
LOCUM: Cryptic definition, the practice being a doctor’s surgery.

5d Bird of elegant spirit on river? (9)
CHICKADEE: A charade of a synonym of elegant or smart, a two-letter Egyptian spirit and a largely Welsh river.

6d Element represented by Falange’s extremists? (4)
IRON: The extreme letters of FalangE are the chemical symbol of this element.

7d Estate say with monument announced where Gordon fell (8)
KHARTOUM: Homophones (announced) of something of which an estate is an example and a monument in memory of a dead person, the solution being the place where the named Major was killed.

8d Attack damaged marionette where extremities lost (4,4)
TEAR INTO: Anagram (damaged) of mARIONETTe (extremities lost).

13d Therapist with patter – it offers protection (6-4)
SHRINK WRAP: An informal word for a therapist, the single-letter abbreviation for With and a synonym of patter or talk continuously.

15d Artist on the rise snapped with anger, seeing financial exploitation (9)
ARBITRAGE: A reversal of the usual abbreviated artist, a synonym of snapped (as a dog may) plus one of anger or fury.

16d It feels clammy at first, drenched in wine and beer (8)
TENTACLE: Follow a type of Spanish red wine with a synonym of beer into which is inserted the initial letter of Clammy.

17d Impressed with Shuttle’s last uncontrolled flight (8)
STAMPEDE: A synonym of impressed as a verb plus the final letter of shuttlE.

19d Price fruit higher than flower (6)
FIGURE: Follow a fruit (higher in a down clue) that’s used in delicious biscuits with one of crosswordland’s favourite rivers or flower.

20d Sell famous footballer holding bigger cup? (6)
PEDDLE: A famous (Brazilian) footballer placed around a “large cup”, the cup being part of a bra!

23d Renown – it follows noble around mostly (5)
KUDOS: A reversal (around) of a synonym of “it follows” or therefore plus a noble without the final letter.

24d Bos indicus or a little prize bull? (4)
ZEBU: Hidden in the final two words of the clue for an extended definition.

All very enjoyable indeed, thanks Donnybrook. For my podium I’ll go with 9&21a plus 2d. Which were your New Year winners.

38 comments on “Toughie No 3193
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  1. Very enjoyable puzzle with one or two obscurities which it was easy to work out. Several good clues but 13D was my overall favourite. Thanks to setter ***/**** for me

  2. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks to Donnybrook and thanks to SL for the review (and for all his excellent reviews in the past).
    For me the puzzle started pretty straightforwardly at the top but got trickier as I neared the bottom.
    I wasn’t overly impressed with 21a having all the letters of ‘Pat’ in the answer – I thought something like ‘knock ram down’ might have been better.
    My New Year winners were 22a, 2d, 13d and 17d.

  3. Since my recent initial sortie into toughie land I have returned on a somewhat irregular basis, driven either by an excess of time on my hands or by a cross reference from the back page blog (such as took me to SL’s delightful debut puzzle last week (thanks again)).
    It was very much the former today given the foul weather and I must say that the excess of time was needed. It was a slow but ultimately steady solve for me with a couple of new words in 1d and 3d (the first I could guess, the second needed dictionary assistance).
    5a and 28a amused me and I thought 10a might almost be heading us towards a belated festive theme, alas not.
    The favourite for me was 16d.

  4. My enjoyment of this puzzle (which was considerable, thank you Mr Doorknob) was completely overshadowed by your declaration, Stephen. Gutted! I shall miss your succinct and insightful hints enormously. Does this mean that we shall be seeing more of your productions on the back page?

    1. Hi Celia.
      That’s very kind of you, you’ve made my day. My debut puzzle was last Tuesday’s Toughie, hopefully there’ll be more to follow and they are more likely to appear as early week Toughies rather than back-pagers. Have a Happy New Year

      1. I too will miss your helpful hints! I do try the toughie most nights and on this one I found the north much more friendly than the south. I don’t know where my days go, there never seems time for me! Happy New Year and success in all you do.

  5. An enjoyable puzzle to get us back up and running. I had trouble parsing 23d [it follows] and 25a [no idea why] both excellent clues but awards go to 16d [it feels] 20d [bigger cup] and the topical 22a [British plant!].
    Thanks to Donnybrook and SL
    Stephen – sorry to see you go [tho I may save a bit on CDs without you] and here’s to every success in your setting career – let’s have plenty of music references.

  6. An enjoyable Tuesday Toughie, though it took ages and a bit of Mr G to ascertain why my perfectly parsed answer to 22a was correct – I’d heard of the codename, but forgotten the (deliberate?) misspelling. I shared Gazza’s reservation with 21a, while also raising an eyebrow at extremists and extremities in such close proximity. But otherwise, what a lovely puzzle, with so many great clues.

    Many thanks to Donnybrook, and especially to Stephen for your blogging – your success is our loss.

  7. Great fun as always from this accomplished setter with 13d my favourite (not just because of the picture).

    Many thanks to Donnybrook and SL. I am sorry you are stepping down from the blogging chair but delighted we will see more of your alter ego in the Toughies as we progress through the year.

  8. Well I’m stuck & only 12 answers in (mostly in NE). Can’t possibly seek the Toughie setter’s help this early on so will put it aside until later & hope for a sharper brain. TBC

  9. Clever, as always, but very doable. I can only raise my cap to anyone who’d heard of a bos indicus but scrupulously clued. And the surfaces were pretty sharp, I thought. 2d was wonderfully tight. I loved the Enterprise helmsman too, 14a couldn’t have been better clued and 22a was cunning. Many thanks to Donnybrook. And Stephen L, of course. We’ll miss you here as much as we’ll enjoy you in the other place!

  10. Hadn’t heard of the salmon so was a bung in or the British plant so had to look it up as I did the bos indicus. I didn’t find this as straightforward as others but nothing new there, however, like others I’ll miss Stephen’s insightful hints. Favourite was 14a. Thanks to Donnybrook and once again SL.

  11. I found this one quite challenging and had to fall back on Mr G’s assistance to nail four definitions that were outside of my GK.
    Nevertheless, plenty to enjoy and I packed the podium with 9a plus 2,13&16d.

    Thanks to Donnybrook for the education and to Stephen for the review – as you already know, I really won’t miss your music choices but I will certainly miss your seemingly effortless blogs. Hope all goes well for you on your new career path.

  12. I haven’t looked at the crossword yet…but thanks for all the blogs and comments. Good luck with the new direction as a compiler and hope you can enjoy a pint in the Cary Arms when your next puzzle is published!

  13. Thank heavens for TG & Jane. I thought this was very tough. It took 3 visits to nearly get to a finish (without the hints) albeit I looked up the Enterprise helmsman (Kirk, Spock & Bones the only ones I knew) to peg 3d & then initially had my fodder vowels in the wrong spot. Not too embarrassed to admit to checking with Mr G post entry to see if 22a was indeed yet another plant I was unfamiliar with & then realising it had nowt to do with flora. Both the 1a salmon & bos indicus were also new to me. Having got through all that just couldn’t twig 1d so Stephen shoved me over the line which is the very least he could do in his last Toughie blog. Despite the struggle I enjoyed the solve with ticks galore when the pennies dropped – 9,11,14,25&27a plus 7,13,15,17&20d my top 5 of each.
    Many thanks to Donny & most particularly to Stephen for all of his excellent blogs. You’ll be much missed – what chance your replacement is a BOC aficionado ?

    1. Thanks Huntsman. I think I’m the biggest BOC aficionado in the country! …. though I do know Zandio is a big fan.

  14. The wordplay in 22a was very generous but the answer was totally unknown to us until we eventually decided to use Google. The rest all went in smoothly enough in what we found another really enjoyable solve.
    You’ll certainly be missed on the blogging team Stephen, all the best for you setting career.
    Thanks Donnybrook too.

  15. As CS says a perfect Tuesday Toughie, not too hard, but plenty of wit, ingenuity, and possibly wisdom. Possibly.

    Thanks NYDK for this, and also tahnks to StephenL whose blogs have been little masterpieces all of their own.

  16. Just got over the line, hardest in the South, but the bos didn’t trouble me long, the next village over where I grew up is Boston Spa named “Oxtown” for a cattle crossing on the Wharfe- the Spa was added later when some mineral springs were found, the wordplay indicated a lurker and the answer rang a faint bell
    Thanks to Donnybrook and especially to Stephen who will be missed

  17. Congratulations on becoming a setter.
    Almost completed, with a bit of electronic help, including Mr Google.
    Annoyingly I got obsessed with starting 11a with “drawn”. Onwards and upwards.

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