Toughie 3198 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3198

Toughie No 3198 by Robyn

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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

Robyn always seems to get the difficulty level of his crosswords just right – I thought this one was just right for a Wednesday Toughie

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1a    Something that stimulates and forms Etonians, say (5,7)
UPPER CLASSES A stimulating drug and some groups of children taught together (forms)

9a    Skips with German, caught by cartography experts (5)
OMITS The German word for with ‘caught by’ or inserted into the abbreviation for the organisation responsible for the preparation of maps in Great Britain and Northern Ireland

10a    Feeling excitement, personnel gets into fieldwork? (9)
THRILLING The abbreviation for the department formerly known as ‘Personnel’ inserted into part of a verb meaning to work the land

11a    People applying tips from Enid leaving sugary fruits (10)
CANDIDATES The ‘tips’ from EniD ‘leaving’ an adjective meaning preserved in sugar and some fruits

12a    Give a poor rating to electronic Windows feature? (4)
PANE Misleading capitals time – an informal way of saying criticise harshly (give a poor rating to) and the abbreviation used to show that something is ‘electronic’

13a    Unfinished gizmo working for dabbler (7)
WIDGEON A gizmo or gadget without its last letter (unfinished) and the usual two-letter ‘working’ combine to give a type of duck (dabbler)

15a    Fawns with a doe? It’s leaping around (7)
TOADIES An anagram (leaping around) of A DOE ITS

17a    Spotted rabbit maybe going first, one cutting through wood? (7)
BUCKSAW A synonym for spotted goes after (rabbit going first) a male animal such as a rabbit. I made the mistake of asking whether Mr CS had heard of this ‘woodcutter’ – should anyone need a five-minute lecture on the subject, I know the very man!

19a    Associate engaged by American for Unesco, say (7)
ACRONYM An intimate friend (associate) inserted into (engaged by) an abbreviation for American – the spellchecker, the dictionary and I all agree that UNESCO should be capitalised!

21a    Hands round lead from informant and drug nark (4)
RILE Here nark means to annoy or irritate. The abbreviations for your hands go round the ‘lead’ of Informant, the result finished with an abbreviated drug

22a    Slack off, penning one word the wrong way in contract (10)
ABBREVIATE A verb meaning to subside (slack off) ‘penning’ the Roman numeral for one and a reversal (the wrong way) of a ‘doing’ word

25a    Wood taken for sculpting art from Asia (3,4,2)
TAE KWON DO An Asian martial art is an anagram (for sculpting) of WOOD TAKEN

26a    Carmaker‘s marketing about to receive big blow (5)
SKODA A reversal of some abbreviated marketing goes ‘about’ an abbreviation for a big ‘blow’ that would render someone unconscious

27a    Help when pouring precipitation fills borders of these flowers (3-9)
TEA-STRAINERS The outside letters (borders) of ThesE and some precipitation filling some flowers


1d    Trouble afoot with no British in von der Leyen’s group, say (5)
UNION Remove the abbreviation for British (no British) from a foot ‘problem’ to get a group such as the one led by Ursula von der Leyen

2d    Polish cat goes around being very bold (9)
PUSHINESS An informal cat goes round a verb meaning to polish, eg shoes

3d    Check son must go and learn new skills (7)
RETRAIN Remove the abbreviation for son (son must go) from a synonym for check

4d    Unwrapped cargo breaks in case of greatest size (7)
LARGEST The inside (unwrapped) letters of cARGo inserted into (breaks) a conjunction meaning in case of/for fear of

5d    Bar member‘s kind after opening of sherry (4)
SILK An informal term for a King’s Counsel (member of the Bar) – a synonym for type or kind goes after the ‘opening’ of Sherry

6d    Possibly stripping down, i.e. to plain pants (9)
EPILATION An anagram (pants) of IE TO PLAIN

7d    Hosting Oscars, host that’s uncomfortable is a childish beast (3-3)
MOO-COW A Master of Ceremonies (host) ‘hosting’ two of the letter represented by Oscar in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, the result followed by an interjection of pain (that’s uncomfortable)

8d    Scary female going out topless with nothing on (6)
OGRESS The first letter of the act of going out is removed, making it ‘topless’, and the letter representing nothing is put in its place

14d    It reveals bust firm on line has cut excise (9)
DECOLLETE A low neckline (it reveals bust) – an abbreviated company and the abbreviation for Line inserted into (has cut) a verb meaning to excise or remove

16d    Climbing in Sierra, I’m off round Vietnam’s capital (9)
ARRIVISME An anagram (off) of SIERRA IM put ’round’ the capital letter of Vietnam

17d    Happen to put on judge’s wig (6)
BERATE Wig in the sense of give someone a good telling off – a simple way of saying happen and a verb meaning to judge or assess

18d    Clothing stores dispense with event on Zoom? (7)
WEBINAR Some clothing ‘stores’ an informal verb meaning to dispense with

19d    Earlier computer technology keeps using theory (1,6)
A PRIORI Some abbreviated computer technology ‘keeps’ an adjective meaning previous or earlier – a Latin expression meaning  using pre-existing knowledge

20d    Frenzied lady and e.g. Hamlet live towards the north (6)
MAENAD A mythological follower of Bacchus gives her name to a term for a female beside herself with frenzy – a reversal (towards the north in a Down solution) of the nationality of someone such as Hamlet and part of a verb meaning live

23d    Holes in the wall plugged by round building blocks (5)
ATOMS The round letter inserted into some ‘holes in the wall’ where you can obtain cash

24d    Milk suppliers picked up milk exploitatively (4)
EWES A homophone (picked up) of a verb meaning to milk exploitatively


17 comments on “Toughie 3198
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  1. A delightful midweek Toughie – thanks to Robyn and CS.
    From a host of contenders I’ve selected 27a, 7d and 18d for my podium.

  2. I have a slight disagreement with CS over her explanation of 9a. It is the German for with that is caught by the cartography experts. M
    Most enjoyable though. Thanks to Robyn and CS

      1. Agreed but it is the German for “with” that is caught as you have amended clue to. Not a problem. Thanks for parsing many that I had just bunged in

        1. I’m not sure what you think I amended but the hint for 9a is exactly the same as the one in my Word draft of the blog which I saved at 10 am this morning

  3. The perfect Toughie for me: immaculate surfaces, just the right amount of chew, with buckets of charm and wit.
    I’ve never really understood what 19d means and I still don’t. And the frenzied lady made my memory creak. But, from the delightful 1a on, this was a romp. I could pretty much have ticked every clue but 27a and 16d stood out for me. 16d was actually my LOI which is ridiculous bearing in mind it’s an anagram but that clever “climbing” convinced me, for far too long, that I was looking for a reversed lurker. Lovely definition.
    Huge thanks, as ever, to Robyn (as Sue rightly say he always seems to get the difficulty spot on) and, of course, CS.

  4. I found this rather harder than previous Robyn Toughies but still very enjoyable after a good battle with 8d my favourite and 27a in second place.

    Many thanks to Robyn and to CS.

  5. Top drawer stuff, though it took a while to get into. So many of the clues were exceptionally good – too many to list so I’ll award COTD to my last in – 23d.
    Thanks to Robyn and CS.

  6. A good solid Toughie from a very reliable setter with plenty of great surfaces and neat misdirection. Of several fine clues I liked 8d the best.

    My thanks to Robyn and Sue.

  7. Am chuffed to bits to finish this one. Much tougher than ***s for difficulty for me but, having barely mastered English, French, German & Latin doesn’t really play to my strengths. A fair bit of post solve consultation with Mr G required for words that I wasn’t familiar with & a lot of reverse engineering needed for the whys but all eventually pegged. Another belter from Robyn (& I thought his Graun puzzle yesterday if anything even better) – does he ever produce a dud? Ticks all over the shop but last in 7d was my clear fav.
    Thanks to Robyn & to Sue – I’d never heard of the saw but then I’ve never chopped 🪵 either.

  8. Took me two sittings as I stalled in the NW. These were either side of a trip to the cinema to watch One Life which I highly recommend.

    Thanks to Robyn and CS.

  9. Such a delight to do a Robyn toughie! No other setter produces such smooth surfaces. I wonder how long it takes him. 5d and 23d are lovely clues. Thanks to CS for the parsing of 7d.

  10. Ultimately defeated by 19d which I still haven’t got with the hint, it will be a latin phrase I’ve never heard of as I hadn’t 20d. I think I’m having a bad week so far. Favourite was 1d. Thanks to Robyn and CS.

  11. I was right in a much a I’d never heard of it. I’ve just Googled it so I have now. I’ll try and remember it. Thanks for the explanation.

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