Toughie 2748 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2748

Toughie No 2748 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Sparks includes a little theme in a fun puzzle – maybe you can help me with 6d!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Stern assertion from stag to his mate? (6)
BEHIND: Split (2,4), this might be something a male deer says to a female deer

4a    Visit kitchen regularly and pick dessert (3,5)
ICE CREAM: The even letters (regularly) plus a word meaning pick or choice

9a    Dodgy workman evasive about old bishop drinking whiskey (6)
COWBOY: A 3-letter word for evasive goes about the abbreviations for old and bishop, which in turn contain (drinking) the abbreviation for whiskey

10a    I hunt, following river around eastern French land after backtracking (8)
FERRETER: The abbreviations for following and river go around a reversal (after backtracking) of the abbreviation for eastern and the French word for land

11a    For whom workers may make meals (9)
ANTEATERS: A cryptic definition where the workers are the 6-legged type

13a    Long time before November (5)
YEARN: A period of time plus the letter with radio code November

14a    Raced topless around Sinai Desert, otherwise walked (14)
PEDESTRIANISED: A 4-letter word meaning raced but without the first letter (topless), then an anagram (otherwise) of SINAI DESERT

17a    Was unaware of short girl having grown (14)
MISAPPRECIATED: A 4-letter title for a girl without the last letter (short), plus a word for grown or gained value

21a    Hesitate? Barber doesn’t begin (5)
HAVER: A 6-letter word for barber or beard-cutter without the first letter (doesn’t begin)

23a    Maybe Macduff‘s princess yet to meet her mother-in-law (9)
DISTILLER: A princess of Wales, a word meaning yet, plus an abbreviation of the princess’s mother-in-law

24a    Cheap deposit backed with very little money (8)
TUPPENNY: A 3-letter verb meaning deposit is reversed (backed) and our smallest denomination coin

25a    Sister‘s pal picked up unbridled sarcasm (6)
MATRON: A homophone (picked up) of another word for pal plus a 5-letter word for sarcasm without the first and last letters (unbridled)

26a    Bells of Ireland back in demand (8)
CARILLON: The IVR for Ireland is reversed (back) in a (4,2) phrasal verb meaning demand

27a    Tamper with bones (6)
DOCTOR: Two meanings, the second a slang word for a profession


1d    Author‘s cake dipped in tea? Au contraire (6)
BUCHAN: Au contraire tells us that rather the tea is dipped in cake. A 3-letter word for tea goes inside a 3-letter cake to gives us the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps

2d    Ground zero’s hit, pinning western guns (9)
HOWITZERS: An anagram (ground) of ZERO’S HIT contains (pinning) the abbreviation for western

3d    Tiny baby consumed by gas (7)
NEONATE: A noble gas and a 3-letter word for consumed

5d    Free speech semi-ostracises some men (5,6)
CHESS PIECES: An anagram (free) of SPEECH + half of ostraCISES

6d    Continue with cliffs just after cutting south (5,2)
CARRY ON: Thanks Gazza! (comment 1). Indeed, a 6-letter adjective meaning ‘with cliffs’ plus a preposition that can mean ‘just after’ – then remove the abbreviation for south. I don’t think I have this right: a scar is a cliff, so SCARS + the abbreviation for right (just?) and a 3-letter word meaning after or further, then remove the S’s? But then south should be plural somehow

7d    Possibly wide on the right, not top or bottom (5)
EXTRA: A 7-letter word meaning ‘on the right’ without the first and last letters (not top or bottom)

8d    Steep promotion in naval affairs (8)
MARINADE: A 2-letter promotion goes inside (in) a word meaning naval affairs (I thought it just meant naval, but see Chambers)

12d    Was part of internet node corrupted when deleting a name (7,4)
ENTERED INTO: An anagram (corrupted) of INTERNET (n)ODE without one abbreviation for name

15d    Croft girl slicing fish — think something’s odd? (5,1,3)
SMELL A RAT: The first name of Ms Croft in Tomb Raider goes inside (slicing) a kind of fish

16d    Impressive understanding has moved husband (8)
EMPHATIC: Another word for understanding has the abbreviation for husband shifted up 2 spaces

18d    Composer by trade, you say? (7)
PURCELL: A homophone (you say) of a word meaning by and a word meaning trade

19d    Wild in the past, entertaining rising French director (7)
AGITATO: A 3-letter word meaning ‘in the past’ contains a reversal (rising) director of M Hulot, etc.

20d    Several monarchs embracing single European change (6)
KRONER: Three abbreviations for king go around (embracing) a word meaning single

22d    Somebody regularly heard weasel (5)
VIPER: A 3-letter abbreviation for a somebody or a (big) name plus the even letters (regularly) in ‘heard’

I liked MacDuff’s princess, miss Croft, and the semi-ostracised men. Which clues did you like?

25 comments on “Toughie 2748

  1. 6d Definition is just ‘continue’. With cliffs is ‘SCARRY’. Add ON (just after) and remove the S.

  2. Thanks Dutch for review, and Sparks for very enjoyable puzzle.
    15d perhaps favourite but many to choose from.
    6d: Definition: “Continue”; “with cliffs” = SCARRY “just after” = ON, losing S (“cutting south”)
    [Edit: Sorry Gazza – I was typing whilst you were posting]

  3. Very enjoyable with a fun theme – thanks to Sparks and Dutch.
    Many clues ticked, including 23a, 24a and 15d.

  4. This was very definitely a step up in difficulty from other puzzles this week and much appreciated by this solver. Many enjoyable clues, with 5 and 15d particularly worthy of mention.

    My thanks to Sparks for a great challenge and to Dutch.

  5. Very enjoyable. Like our blogger I struggled to make sense of 6d. A childhood in Loughborough definitely helped with 26a. My favourite was 20d. Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  6. I loved this puzzle, which I finished–with the aid of three letters–late last night. Couldn’t parse 6d or 15d but bunged in the correct answers. So much to like, especially 14a, 9a, 5d, & 20d. Thanks to Dutch for the help parsing, and to Sparks for the pleasurable challenge.

    I hope that CS found this one more to her liking. At any rate, I hope that she has a very happy birthday.

    1. Very much so – I’m almost tempted to suggest to the DT that Toughies should be from Tuesday to Friday, not just for birthdays :D

  7. Excellent puzzle. Much more like it after the previous three days. Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  8. I am grateful to Gazza for 6d, which was my only bung-in; I agree with the general feeling so far that it’s nice to have an actual Toughie. I think this was the first one that took me even into ** time. Good fun, nice theme, which at least I spotted once reminded by Dutch to think of looking for it. I think ‘European change’ is my favourite – I love a misleading surface, but my biggest penny-drop and last one in was 11a.

    Happy birthday Sue.

  9. Good puzzle, most enjoyable – thank you Sparks. And thanks also to Dutch – I needed your parsing for 5d, just couldn’t see the second half of the anagram for the trees!

    Had not heard of that particular distiller, and for a while was following the red herring and pondering the MacDuff family tree … Was still further held up in the SE, and am now bruised from kicking myself as the last few fell. Cannot decide whether 15d or 11a should be COTD – both are quite wonderful.

    Many happy returns to CS.

  10. I really thought I was going to finish a Friday toughie after a gap of more than a year.
    19d and 27a foxed me. I thought bones referred to surgeons rather than medicos, but should’ve got that one as I was on the right track. Never heard of 19d, musical terminology I suppose.
    Liked 10a and 23a. As others say, this puzzle has been the only challenge this week!
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch, and MHR to CS!

  11. After completing the last 3 Toughies I attempted this one, and failed miserably.

    After reading through the hints I am surprised how close I got in many cases. I did not enter 15D, because I could not parse it after I got distracted by ‘Ella’. I discarded the correct answer for 6D because it seemed too naff. Sorry, but ‘on’ and ‘just after’ mean completely different things to me.

    Thanks to Dutch for the hints.

    1. S. Sorry to be late, but as a preposition “on” can be used when describing one event that was followed closely by another event. As in: I had arranged to meet Frank outside the station on/just after his arrival from London. Not sure if that will convince you?

        1. “On arrival” is a common phrase used in that sort of context, but I guess most people would never realise or consider that it could mean “just after”.

  12. We also failed to parse 6d but apart from that it all slotted together relatively smoothly with plenty to keep us smiling.
    Thanks Hudson and Dutch.

  13. Certainly a sterner test today than the previous three this week. I’m also in the unable to parse 6d club so thanks for the enlightenment there.

    Lots to enjoy, with thanks to Dutch and Sparks.

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