Toughie 3197 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3197

Toughie No 3197 by Serpent

Hints and tips by ALP

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Well, I’m as surprised as anyone. More so, probably. You have the silver-tongued Gazza to “thank” for this. My lot are still hooting at his absurdly generous notion that I’m “always sensible”. Er, no! But I am painfully aware that I have impossible shoes to fill (Stephen L is “dead”, long live Dharma) so I will do my best to try and pretend that I am. Please feel free to howl if and when I get it wrong.

I thought this was slightly tougher than usual for a Tuesday but I tackled it at silly o’clock which probably didn’t help. Most of it flew in very happily but there were a couple of head-scratchers and I did have to call in reinforcements to parse 18d.

Now, I know you’re all far too smart to need hints from the likes of me, but here goes. Do let us know how you got on.


1a Assuming indecisive statement must be reversed in fresh conclusion (10)
PRETENDING: A synonym for fresh/saucy has its middle two letters (something you might say when you’re not sure) reversed, plus a six-letter finish.

6a Mist caused by pressure on body of water (4)
DAMP: The usual abbreviation for pressure on/following a confined body of water.

10a Prominent feature of plot with escaped prisoner (5)
SPIRE: (to) plot, minus the usual three-letter prisoner.

11a Recreate broadcast about Kingston’s Original Gangsta (9)
RACKETEER: An anagram (broadcast) of RECREATE  + K(ingston).

12a Divert vehicle reversing into street behind policeman (8)
DISTRACT: A (horse-drawn?) vehicle reversed inside the usual short street, after (a) policeman. Lewis, say.

13a Unusual way to go having moved out East (5)
OUTRE: A way to go in which the “out” moves from the middle to the beginning of the word (west). So the answer becomes a way to go when “out” heads east. I’ve made this sound way more complicated than it really is!

15a 1980s star “wanting space” is not backing down (7)
ADAMANT: the old Prince Charming of pop as one word, not two; ie wanting a space (bar).

17a Time guaranteed removal of article? (7)
ERASURE: More 80s pop, so soon?! A three-letter period of time + certain = removal (of article, perhaps)

19a Causing a stink about English monarch (7)
REEKING: The usual “about” + English abbreviation + Charles is one.

21a Who’s first to provide service for troubled souls? (7)
PRELATE: P(rovide) + a counselling service much in use at this time of year, apparently, creates someone who offers another sort of service. Semi &lit.

22a Creep reported Flora’s partner (5)
FAUNA: A homonym (reported) of a lickspittle/creep = what goes with flora.

24a He could be a fellow of no importance (8)
ACADEMIC: Double definition. The usual clever fellow would be one of these = of no importance.

27a Bellyache or colic? (9)
COMPLAINT: Double definition. Bellyache as in (a) moan, colic as in an illness.

28a It is not commonly something that causes pollution (5)
TAINT: How one might say “it isn’t” if one were, dare I say, common. I often use a shortened version of this for “isn’t” but this would be going too far!

29a Polish author who loved Chopin (4)
SAND: The French novelist who had a long affair with the Polish composer is also how you might polish/tart up old floorboards.

30a Stretcher bed for construction worker (10)
BRICKLAYER: Stretcher (as in a horizontal part of a wall, new to me, but it’s in Chambers) + a synonym of bed, as in a bed of rock, say.


1d Jockey opts for pole position (4)
POST: Jockey or jostle “opts” to get a (vertical) pole/position (job).

2d Remove bird wedged in crack (9)
ELIMINATE: A “talking” bird inside crack, as in top-notch.

3d What happened in seventeen seventy-seven, tragically, on three occasions (5)
EVENT: a lurker, three times over. No history needed!

4d Stepped back around person sleeping (7)
DORMANT: A (male) person inside a reversed word for stepped/walked.

5d What may depend on Biden being smart? (7)
NECKTIE: An Americanism that may depend/hang down on Biden (or any US chap) when he’s smartly dressed.

7d Prevent state trooper losing almost everything (5)
AVERT: State, as in say + t(rooper).

8d Kept on going through Split (10)
PERSEVERED: The three-letter “through” + split/cleaved.

9d Let off 10 “characters” in a row in court (8)
DETONATE: How you might describe these ten characters in a row alphabetically, starting with E – inside a word for (to) court, as in see or woo.

14d Victims face crisis following upheaval (10)
SACRIFICES: These victims (virgins, goats?) are an “upheaval” of FACECRISIS.

16d Is it possible for me to have a drop of cherry cordial? (8)
AMICABLE: Write “is it possible for me” another way, then slot in c(herry).

18d Consensus of 24 institutions may ultimately accept article (9)
UNANIMITY:  Two 24a institutions (one general, one specific) + (ma)Y accepting one grammatical article. Ouch!

20d Windows expert beginning to get worse at work? (7)
GLAZIER: G(et) + comparative adjective for someone slack who’s become even more so.

21d Flexible, extensible material converting energy into power (7)
PLASTIC: E(nergy) in a stretchy material becomes P(ower).

23d Demoralise sniper with good shot (5)
UNMAN: An armed sniper less the initial G(ood) = to demoralise (a chap?).

25d Celebrate without much backing (5)
EXTOL: Without/formerly used + much/many reversed.

26d I’m annoyed about The Sun? (4)
STAR: The Famous Five’s worst curse, about/backwards = the sun, for example (or, as it happens, The Sun’s rival).

Much to like here (big ticks for 1a, 15a, 21a, 29a and 16d) but I especially admired 9d. Thanks to Serpent. What did you think?

PS I must just add my thanks to Gazza for this unexpected honour and for heroically putting up with my Luddite squeals re the horrors of WordPress. And to the unflappable Mr K, of course.

24 comments on “Toughie 3197
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  1. Welcome to the blogging team
    I thought this crossword was the level of difficulty a Tuesday Toughie ought to be. My favourites were 15a and 3d

    Thanks to Serpent and ALP

  2. A hearty welcome to our new Tuesday Toughie blogger and thanks for the excellent debut blog. I agree with ALP that this was a mite tougher than we usually get on Tuesday but I enjoyed it a lot – thanks to Serpent.
    Serpent often gives us something ‘extra’ in the grid but I can’t spot anything today.
    My ticks went to 1a, 15a, 21a, 24a and 5d.

  3. Just popping in to wish my successor well (thanks for your kind words by the way ALP) and hope he has as much fun as I did blogging excellent puzzles like this.

  4. A very clever and nicely clued puzzle that was certainly harder than is often the case on a Tuesday. Lots of potential favourites, with the winner being 9d.

    My thanks to Serpent and a big welcome to ALP.

  5. Even more quirky than usual from Serpent but great fun, tho’ I found it quite tough for Tuesday. Lots of ticks but the best, for me, were 1a, 15a, 5d, 16d and the winner [a real head-scratcher] 9d.
    Thanks to Serpent and thanks and a big welcome to ALP.

  6. Crikey ALP they could have given you a gentler intro. I thought that was jolly difficult & made a right pig’s ear of trying to solve it. Certainly not an unaided finish having used the online reveal mistakes facility a couple of times & requiring 2 corrections en route. Needed your hint too for last in 29a despite being reasonably sure I hinted her in an AP puzzle not that long ago & maybe even posted the same pic. 5d was an unparsed bung in too. Top three of each for me were 10,15&24a plus 2,9&18d.
    Thanks to Serpent for the stern challenge & a big welcome & well done to ALP (great pics at 5&23d) – not sure Dave Grohl will fare any better than Blue Oyster Cult with Jane but she may be a fan of the other fella at 15a. Whatever frustrations you may have with Word Press just remember you can’t possibly be as inept as I am – it took me 15mins & an array of expletives this morning to finally cover 3 answers.

    1. I know! Why couldn’t I have got the Withnail & I clue? How I would have loved to have posted the “perfumed ponce” clip! Funny about 29a – I so wanted to put up a slightly risqué picture of her that I found but I thought that might lead to trouble. Yes, I’m not sure the brilliant Foo Fighters will fare any better than the BOC but I just thought the song and vid were beautifully apposite. Re WordPress, you should have heard me at 4am!

  7. Well done ALP!
    Your reputation for being “always sensible” has been well and truly sniped at 23d 🤣🤣🤣

  8. Not a setter whose work I would usually tackle but felt compelled if only to discover how our latest Toughie blogger fared on his maiden voyage. Answer is that he did very well although I doubt he got much sleep last night!
    Favourite for me was Flora’s partner with the construction worker not far behind.

    Thanks to Serpent and to ALP for an excellent set of hints – no comment to make on the ‘music’ choices.

    1. That’s very generous Jane, thank you. I have to say that when I (finally) managed to attach those music clips at about 4am you were very much on my mind, extremely oddly! I certainly didn’t think the Foos would be your cup of tea, no. Sorry about that..

  9. Well I found that really difficult. A lot of unparsed bung ins – 1a (first part), 6a ( not sure about the body of water),13a, 21a and 5d. I had to Google Chopin to get 29a. I parsed 1d a an anagram and a double definition. Favourite was 9d but 18d ran it close. Thanks to Serpent for the mental thrashing and ALP for the much needed hints.

  10. Managed to solve eventually and with the hints can understand all but 9d, the picture means nothing to me, any more helpful hints appreciated. Thanks

    1. The character in the picture is just about to do this – probably. You need to start with E, then the one that comes nine letters later (row of 10) and find an expression (1,2,1) that encapsulates that. Those four letters go inside “to see romantically”. And then you should be able to bang it in.

  11. I also thought this was tougher than the usual Tuesday Toughie. So many good clues but my favourite has to be 9D, very clever I thought. Many thanks to Serpent and very well done to ALP on your successful maiden voyage.

  12. A Tricky Tuesday excellently blogged by ALP, I will join the praise for 9d very clever.
    I hope the vagaries of WordPress don’t keep you up til all hours often but I can assure you that it gets easier with time I am sure you are getting a lot of help from the Famous Four but I too will help if you need it (you should have my email in the notification of this post)

    1. Cheers SJB, I really appreciate that. It was indeed a late one, first time out, but that will ease. And Gazza and Mr K have been extraordinarily patient.

  13. We have been otherwise engaged this week and have not yet tackled the puzzles but had to pop in to extend a warm welcome to ALP on joining the blogging team.

  14. May I just thank you all for such a warm and generous welcome, not to mention your admirably restrained critique of my musical choices. I hope I didn’t make too many glaringly obvious howlers – I’m certainly pathetically pleased to have the first one under my belt. Such larks!

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