Toughie 3214 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3214

Toughie No 3214 by Vagabundo

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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

Having translated the pseudonym of our new setter, I knew that today’s Toughie was likely to be more of a challenge than many a Wednesday Toughie as his crosswords in another place are usually on the tricky side. Being a fan of lesser known/unusual words helped with the solve as Vagabundo had definitely made use of his copy of The Book of Obscure Words for Crossword Setters

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1a    Endless beer? Get round with soft drink (7)
ALCOPOP Beer without its last letter (endless), a slang word meaning get, the ’round’ letter and the musical abbreviation for soft

5a    Leader finished with band that’s very entertaining (7)
SUPREMO An adjective meaning finished and an American rock band ‘entertained’ by a synonym for very

9a    Make-up to entice, grabbing fellows on date (11)
TEMPERAMENT A verb meaning to entice ‘grabbing’ some fellows going after an important date

10a    Writer‘s detailed writing (3)
POE Some writing in verse without its last letter (detailed)

11a    Some local vendor to deliver new stock (5)
CALVE Hidden in the second and third words of the clue

13a    A pitch with American running back on: for this? (5,4)
SUPER BOWL A preposition meaning for each person (A) and a verb meaning to pitch a ball going on or after a reversal (running back) of an abbreviation meaning American

14a    Fit dog chasing bird (8)
DOVETAIL A verb meaning to follow (dog) chasing or going after a bird

16a    Convert fancy housing for dog, in retirement (6)
MODIFY An interjection expressing surprise ‘housing’ a reversal (in retirement) of a generic name for a dog

18a    Mostly inspect floor for ring (6)
CANVAS Almost all (mostly) of a verb meaning to scrutinise or inspect

19a    Draws on pad first draughts (8)
FLATUSES A dwelling place informally known as a pad goes before (first) a synonym for draws in the sense of avails oneself of, to produce some puffs or wind (draughts)

22a    A record on air after release? Is group out of university playing hit (9)
SPIROGRAM A record obtained from an instrument for recording breathing movements. An anagram (playing) of IS GROuP (without the U – out of university) followed by a verb meaning to hit

23a    Playboy magazine’s limits pushed in top cover without female (5)
ROMEO The ‘limits’ of MagazinE ‘pushed’ into the top cover (of a building perhaps) without the abbreviation for Female

25a    Field with good jumper, furlong to go (3)
LEA A insect known for its good jumping without (to go) the abbreviation for Furlong

26a    Maidservant struggles and takes note (11)
ANIMADVERTS An anagram (struggles) of MAIDSERVANT

28a    Extremely low flower has greenfly? (7)
DEEPEST A river (flower) with a troublesome thing such as a greenfly

29a    Flat season without maiden horse (7)
EVENTER A synonym for flat and a period of time (season) without the cricket abbreviation for Maiden


1d    Medicine can start to taste awful, stopping relief (7)
ANTACID An anagram (awful) of CAN and the ‘start’ to Taste inserted into (stopping) some relief

2d    One in caravan approached lake (5)
CAMEL A synonym for approached and the abbreviation for Lake

3d    Dish that’s oddly priced (3)
PIE The odd letters of the final word of the clue

4d    Pressure to design and match outfit (8)
PLAYSUIT The symbol used in physics for Pressure, a verb meaning to design and another meaning to match

5d    Scales to go up: Yankee is heavy (6)
SLEEPY A reversal (to go up in a Down solution) of synonym for scales or removes thin layers followed by the letter represented by Yankee in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

6d    Fishing line in stormy Eastern port (11)
PATERNOSTER An anagram (stormy) of EASTERN PORT produces a fishing line with hooks at intervals

7d    Pleasing noises from Brussels; they’re not genuine (9)
EUPHONIES The abbreviation for the European Union (from Brussels) and some fakes or frauds (not genuine)

8d    Face deliveries by amateur (7)
OVERLAY A covering (face) – cricket deliveries and an adjective relating to non-professional people (amateur)

12d    Another helping to wrap up old project (11)
EXTRAPOLATE Another helping of food (5,5), the second word having (to wrap up) the abbreviation for Old inserted

15d    Clear signal to go after victory (9)
VINDICATE A verb meaning to signal goes after a letter used as a sign for Victory

17d    Bar hosting bash and bachelor party (8)
CLAMBAKE A bar (of soap perhaps) ‘hosting’ a verb meaning to beat and the abbreviation for Bachelor

18d    Company: was leader and main man moved on board? (7)
CASTLED A theatrical company and a simple way of saying ‘was leader’ combine to give a chess move where the King (main man) is moved on the board

20d    Finance partners invested in needy, supporting son (7)
SPONSOR Abbreviated bridge partners ‘invested’ in a synonym for needy, all going after (supporting) the abbreviation for Son

21d    Performer in topless bar, model to pose bent over (6)
ARTIST Remove the first letter (topless) from bAR, add a reversal (bent over) of a verb meaning to pose and follow with the letter in the name of the first mass produced car model

24d    Earn millions before tax returns (5)
MERIT The abbreviation for Millions goes before a reversal (returns) of a verb meaning to tax or wear out

27d    Fight scene’s cut (3)
VIE Cut the final letter from a scene

22 comments on “Toughie 3214
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  1. I thought this was the most enjoyable puzzle for quite some time, by a mile. LOVED it. Whoever Vagabundo is (is it Tramp, Sue?) they are very, very welcome to the party. Zingers all over the shop – 13a is simply brilliant. This had it all for me: sweet misdirection, immaculate surfaces and a lot of smilers. Yes, 18d’s definition is slightly unfair but it’s fun and a lovely surface. And 22d is perhaps unnecessarily long-winded. Still excellent, though – very cleverly disguised. Pretty much the perfect puzzle for me. Not hugely tough but there is certainly bite to it…beautifully done. Hats off to Vagabundo (please come again, soon) and thanks to CS.

      1. Brilliant, good to know, ta. I thought it had to be – Tramp’s very much my cup of tea as was this, but I seem to be in the minority so far!

  2. Welcome to our new Toughie setter – thanks to him (or her?) and thanks to CS.
    There were rather too many obscure terms for it to be tremendously enjoyable for me – I really prefer Toughies where the toughness comes from deceptive wordplay rather than unknown (to me) words.
    Having said that there were some neat clues here – I particularly liked 5a, 13a and 17d.

  3. Started well then ground to a halt [in the dentists’ waiting room]. The rest of it was a bit like drawing teeth and I was quite glad when it was all over. I liked 22a [we did them in Biology A-level].
    Thanks to Vagabundo and CS.

  4. This was a curate’s egg for me with some of the clues being very good and some obscure. Some of the surfaces were smooth and some decidedly dodgy. I also found it too tough to be enjoyable.

    Even though the definition for 18d is a bit convoluted, at least the setter understands the correct meaning of castle as a verb in chess terms! :smile:

    Thanks to Vagabundo and to CS.

  5. I’m assuming that our new setter is either a Spanish tramp or a member of a group who seem to produce reasonable background music for a sangria party! Either way, he has rather more words at his command than I do, which made this rather hard work for me. I’m also not a fan of verbose clues so 22a got a thumbs down here.
    Tops for me were 11&14a plus 12&15d, with 14a on the top step.

    Thanks to Vagabundo and to CS for the review – I needed some of your hints today.

  6. Are we sure today isn’t Friday? Such obscure words. This rapidly became a “read and write” for me, that is reading CS’s clues and writing in the answers. She is a very clever girl!

  7. I found this a very difficult puzzle and I’m amazed but pleased with myself for completing it. Some new words to me and some complicated clue construction. I liked 9A and thought 13A was very clever but my favourite was 7D because it made me laugh.
    Many thanks to CS and Vagabundo.
    I’m glad the punishment’s over.

  8. Hard but I had to have a go as it is a first from this setter (here at least) I needed a lot of help from CS but the fart joke in 19a got the biggest guffaw here
    Thanks to Vagabundo and CS

    1. I hope we get more toughies from the Vagabond. He’s one of the setters I haven’t met and ticked off in the (mythical) I Spy Book of Crossword Setters

  9. An unfriendly and hugely unsporting puzzle, rather unenjoyable, and with little to commend it. I should not be in the least upset were this setter never to grace the pages of the DT again.

    Thanks to Sue.

    1. Unlike you to complain…… but I largely agree – it was a bit weird in places. Hey ho, at least one on this site thought it was the best he’d experienced for a long while.

  10. Thanks for the super blog, Sue. I’m sorry not many on here seemed to like it; the editor liked it but said it was on the hard side. I guess I didn’t judge how tough a Toughie should be. In my defence, I wrote it in 2019 and, at that time, I hadn’t solved many Toughies. I’ll learn from that.

    Thanks again,


    1. A delightful puzzle including a very timely 13a. Vagabundo: it will take a few weeks for “us solvers” to get the wavelength… When Dada took over the Sunday puzzle there was mass mutiny, and now (3 years on) is one of the favorites.

      Mr & Mrs T

  11. Very happy to see Tramp coming over to the DT.
    Hardest of the week for me, apart from Elgar bien sûr.
    Learned a few new words and meanings, so thanks for that.
    Thanks to CS for the review.

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